The idea behind materializing the Poshan Abhiyaan lies in the NITI Aayog’s report on National Nutrition Strategy published in September 2017. The report has been beneficial in showcasing a minute analysis of the problems related to nutritional intake in India. Based on the report, the scheme POSHAN (Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition) was launched in 2018. The month of September is celebrated as Poshan Maah to promote awareness about the need for nutritional development and well-being.
The main objective of this scheme is to arrest malnutrition in India and side by side to develop the nutritional intake for pregnant women, lactating mothers, children, and adolescents.
The scheme has been based upon four main pillars:
- Inter-sectoral confluence for better performance.
- Putting information technology to use for better monitoring and tracking of the scheme.
- Intensive health and nutritional procurement for the first 1000 days of the scheme.
- People’s movement.
The target of the Scheme is to
- Decrease the share of stunted growth in the country by 2% annually.
- Reduce mal-nutrition by 2% yearly.
- Arrest the spread of anemia by 3% annually.
- Lessen the share of low birth weight in India by 2% annually.
Functioning and Features
- The mission is an inter-ministerial enterprise and focuses on doing away with malnutrition from India by 2022.
- Poshan Abhiyaan is one of India’s flagship missions to develop the nutritional intake of adolescents, children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
- This scheme skillfully put benefits that information technology has to offer to leverage and thus assures conformity between different modules and departments involved.
- The scheme has set forward specific, scientifically analyzed goals for lessening incidents of stunting, malnutrition, anemia, low birth weight in India.
- As per the ‘Mission 25 by 2020’, the National Nutrition Mission or POSHAN has set an ambitious goal to reduce the incidence of stunting in India from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.
- The scheme also takes into account, the mapping and further implementation of other schemes that are related to malnutrition, thereby, furthering congruence among malnutrition-related schemes, real-time monitoring systems, providing incentives to states and UTs for fulfilling the set targets of the schemes, and enhancing the function of Anganwadi centres’ across the country. It also lays down provisions for conducting regular social audits.
- The other schemes that are encompassed by the POSHAN Abhiyaan include the following- Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), Janani Suraksha Yojana, Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG), Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, PDS, National Health Mission, etc.
- The mission also envisages enhancing the functioning of Anganwadi centres by providing incentives to Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) if IT-based tools are put to use in the centres; thereby eliminating the need to maintain registers, regular monitoring of height and weight of children and adolescents at Anganwadi centres, keeping maternal and infant health in check.
- Another fundamental characteristic of the mission is the cautious and regulated ramping up of assistance under the World Bank beneficiated Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) systems.
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, is the implementing agency of the mission.
- The NITI Aayog also has an important and pivotal role to play in the mission. The National Council on India’s Nutritional Challenges (NCN), which has been created under the Poshan Abhiyaan, has the Vice Chairperson of NITI Aayog as its head. The NCN’s main function is to offer policy directions to arrest challenges related to nutrition in the country and constant, regular review programmes for the same.
Assessment of the Scheme
Although some significant developments have been made in the nutritional outcome of the country through the POSHAN Scheme, there are still plenty of drawbacks lagging the policy. India still needs ample time before it can full-fledged adapt to digitalization. Sudden, abrupt technological imposition through the POSHAN Abhiyaan has been seen to hinder the functioning of many Anganwadis across India. Many Aanganwadi and ASHA workers have expressed their reservations against this sudden, complete shift to digitalization. Most of the applications involved with the process come only in English and that has created an unfortunate language barrier. Lack of technical training to the grassroots level health workers has further complicated the problem.
The Covid-19 pandemic is going to undo many of the significant progress made through the scheme. With schools closed, the nutritional development among young growing children carried out through complementary feeding under Anganwadi centres, mid-day meals, timely immunization, and micro-nutrient supplements at schools has been now severely affected.
This is an upgrade to the Poshan Abhiyaan of 2018, formally declared in the union budget of 2021-22. It aims to improve nutritional intake, delivery, outcome, with a reimagined vigor on facilitating practices that promotes health development, overall wellness, and immunity and counters malnutrition in the country. Poshan 2.0 encompasses the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) , Anganwadi Services, Poshan Abhiyan, Scheme For Adolescent Girls, National Creche Scheme
About the Author
Anondeeta Chakraborty is Researcher at IMPRI. She has graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from St.Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Kolkata, and is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Politics with Specialization in International Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.