POSHAN Abhiyaans 5th Edition Ropes In Panchayat And Local Bodies To Spread Awareness On Nutrition 

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The Logical Indian Crew

POSHAN Abhiyaan's 5th Edition Ropes In Panchayat And Local Bodies To Spread Awareness On Nutrition 

The 5th edition of POSHAN Abhiyaan, the National Nutrition Mission, would be held across the month of September in panchayats and states to improve the nutritional outcomes of the community. 

The flagship programme, Prime Minister's Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition (POSHAN) Abhiyaan, also known as National Nutrition Mission, was launched by PM Narendra Modi in the year 2018.

The scheme concentrates its efforts on creating awareness and conducting activities with the objective of improving the nutritional status of many vulnerable groups, including children under six years of age, pregnant and lactating women.

Every year, the government sets a theme for the scheme to have all the states functioning under a common goal.

The fifth edition of Rashtriya POSHAN Maah will address the challenge of malnutrition by spreading the message through Gram Panchayats acting as Poshan Panchayats. The key focus for the month-long initiative "Mahila aur Swasthya" (Woman and Health) and "Bacha aur Shiksha" (Child and Education).

Envisioning a 'Swasth Bharat' (healthy India), they would be taking along the message of good nutrition and its importance in our lives through targeted awareness activities.

These include spreading awareness about nutrition at the grassroots level, conducting drives, identifying and sensitising, curating outreach programmes, camps and putting forth fairs for children below the age of six years and adolescents.

This Year's Collaborative Mission Involves "POSHAN Panchayats"

POSHAN Maah is one among the initiatives by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that calls for collaborated participation from the public representatives of local bodies, government departments from States or UTs, the Public & Private sectors and social organisations. Described as a 'Jan Andolan', the month-long special nutrition campaign began on September 1 with a focus on utilising creative tools through gram panchayats acting as "POSHAN Panchayats".

Through these entities, the mission hopes to reach out to many women and children on topics of health and education.

Currently, an analysis by India's National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) and Comprehensive National Nutrition Surveys has said that India's nutritional status has been at high risk for a while, with a high prevalence of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency noted among many children, adolescents and women in the country.

It particularly pointed out health concerns such as stunting and underweight among children younger than five years. The decline in rates of malnutrition in the past five years has been only marginal, and more than 30 per cent continue to remain in the stunted and underweight categories each.

It was even worsened during the pandemic, after which India took a while to recover from many of its poor statistics, including its malnutrition rates. A noticeable pattern in many families during the pandemic period was that, as soon as the budgets peaked and inflation struck, they would cut out a generous portion of the fruits and vegetables from their diet as they are relatively costlier than other food items.

Somehow this move also backfires as they are one of the main sources of micronutrients.

This is the same case in terms of tribal regions as well, which happens to be one of the highly nutritive value regions. Somehow, they are worst hit by health issues such as anemia which is linked to factors such as delayed mental and psychomotor development as well as an increased chance of maternal death and morbidity. As reported by the Zee Business, the reproductive-aged women are considered to be a sector that is highly nutritionally vulnerable in the population.

In such a space, building awareness through an annual national initiative such as Rashtriya Poshan Maah would create a discourse that would help identify the concerns and find relevant measures to tackle them. It extensively works to reach out to every nook and cranny with interactive and innovative activities every year.

Commencing the 5th edition of the same, the Minister of Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani, said, "In the 5th Rashtriya Poshan Maah, the aim is to convert Jan Andolan into Jan Bhagidari to fulfil the Honorable PM's vision of a Suposhit Bharat".

At the Panchayat level, the government has already undertaken measures to collaborate with the District Panchayati Raj Officers and Child Development Project Officers (CDPO) to conduct activities throughout the month. The delivery of the same would be ensured through a much integrated system of local institutions such as the Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) and the Swasth Balak Spardha.

Meetings were conducted along with anganwadi's across the nation, and intensive activities were discussed to be implemented along the same lines. The Poshan Panchayat Committees that have been set up will work in close coordination with these fieldlevel workers, including the anganwadi workers, accredited social health activists (ASHAs), auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs), and so on. This would enable a much more efficient problem-solving and service delivery on the grassroots level. Awareness drives at anganwadi's would then ideally translate into good health practices.

Facilitating the environment for health awareness, health camps for anaemia check-ups will be specially organised at Anganwadi centres for adolescent girls. It would expand to Growth measurement drives that would bring in beneficiaries under the ambit of anganwadi services. The drives would also be assisted by the respective AWWs, AWHs, ASHA, district functionaries and other agencies such as Lions Club, Rotary Club, and so on.

State-Level Activities With A Focus On Enhancing Nutrition

As per reports by the New Indian Express, the state-level activities are centred around the importance of traditional food. In accordance with that, the mission has also linked itself to the many festivals that will be celebrated in the month of September.

The celebrations would introduce the traditional food through a special drive known as ''Amma ki Rasoi' or Grandmother's Kitchen". Nutrition-rich recipes from the tribal and other areas would be incorporated and extended to other mothers and children.

Specific lands would also be identified around anganwadi centres as Nutri-gardens or poshak vatikas, and organic materials would be cultivated in the same. It would also hopefully enlighten the children about several attributes of agriculture and horticulture.

Contributing to the same, special focus has been provided to help anganwadi centres understand the importance of rainwater conservation.

There would be even more elaborate thematic activities conducted during the phase to spread the message on the importance of holistic nutrition and ensure a healthier future.

Apart from this, there have been active efforts to introduce health and education in a more localised and indigenous manner. For instance, the awareness and learning in Anganwadi centres would be carried out through National-level Toy Creation Workshops. These would promote the use of indigenous and local toys for the purpose of learning and also simultaneously promote local artisans.

Also Read: West Bengal: Villagers In Alidaspur District Start Kitchen Garden For Dealing With Malnutrition

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Writer : Laxmi Mohan Kumar
Editor : Snehadri Sarkar
Creatives : Laxmi Mohan Kumar

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