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Convergence best way to tackle malnutrition

Bareilly, July 22: Convergence of departments and schemes is the best way to tackle malnutrition among children in Uttar Pradesh, Bareilly Chief Development Officer Satyendra Kumar has said. Every second child in the state is malnourished. “Nutrition interventions can be best executed through convergence of departments and schemes related to health, education, sanitation and food security,” Kumar said as he shared the achievement of the State Nutrition Mission in his district in reducing malnutrition.

The district reduced the prevalence of severe underweight cases from 7.17 per cent to 4.2 per cent in seven months – from November 2017 to June 2018 – in under-five population of 3.7 lakh in the district. The programme covered about 98 per cent of the children. He said that once severely and moderately underweight children (red and yellow categories) are identified, it is ensured that their families have Antyodaya ration cards and regularly get required ration from the public distribution system. One person from each family is immediately given job under MGNREGA. “There are seven to eight departments like panchayati raj, ICDS, ration, education, sanitation and health that collaborate in securing the tag of ‘Malnutrition-Free Village’,” said the young IAS officer who adopted two villages in Bareilly, including Bhandaria. “I would yet not call Bhandaria a malnutrition-free village. Though there is no child in the red category, it still has nine children in the yellow category. Further, it has to be open defecation-free (ODF) and there should not be any malnutrition case for three consecutive months to earn the tag,” he said.

A year ago, only 25-30 per cent of women in the district used to come for all four antenatal check-ups during pregnancy for assessing the dietery plan and well-being of the mother and foetus. Now 50 per cent of women get all four ANCs done. In another innovative measure, 50 district level government officials have adopted two villages each in the district. The officials visit the villages at least once a month to review the ongoing nutrition interventions and clear hurdles.

Kumar does not want to give any special privilege to his adopted villages which other villages cannot replicate. So, no extra money and resources for his adopted village. He wants the villages to find their own local solutions that other villages can take up. At the start of the Swachh Bharat Mission, 2.7 lakh rural households in the district had no toilet. Now it is down to 80,000 households, of which more than 30,000 are in the process of constructing, Kumar said. He expects all toilets will be built before the year ends. “During monsoons, diarrhoea cases used to go up significantly, resulting in major weight losses. It was a big challenge in our fight against malnutrition as all our efforts used to go waste. Rotavirus vaccines have controlled diarrhoea cases this year,” the officer said. (IANS)

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