Child rights groups pitch solutions to tackling malnutrition issues
Dimapur, Jan. 22 (EMN): The “stunting rate,” or percentage, of children in Nagaland affected by stunting is 29.1, coming as one of the effects of malnutrition. The finding was stated during a meeting that was conducted to discuss schemes and services for ‘malnourished and stunted children’ in high-prevalence districts of Nagaland. The event was organised by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), on January 21 in Dimapur.
A press release informed on Wednesday that the meeting was conducted in association with the Nagaland Commission for Protection of Child Rights. A number of recommendations have been made to policy makers to mitigate stated nutritional issues.
According to the India Health Report Nutrition of 2015 jointly prepared by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and released by Union minister for Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda, 42.9 per cent of children in the age of five in Meghalaya are stunted, while 40.6 children in Assam are found to be ‘undersized,’ the press release stated.
‘The rates are above the national average rate of 38.7 percent. Mizoram has recorded a 13 percentage-point decline in stunting with 26.9 percent children under the age of five are found to be stunted in 2014 against 39.8 in 2006,’ the press release stated.
“Stunting is inadequate height for age, which is indicative of chronic or cumulative nutritional deprivation in early childhood. The stunting rate in Manipur is 33.2 percent, Tripura 31 percent, Nagaland 29.1 percent, Arunachal Pradesh 28.4 percent and Sikkim 28 percent. Arunachal Pradesh recorded a number of wasted (sic) children (17 percent) than other states of the Northeast.”
The press release explained that “wasting” is an inadequate weight for height, which points to acute or short term malnutrition. ‘The national average of wasted children is 19.8 percent. Mizoram recorded 14.3 percent in wasting rate. Meghalaya13.1. Nagaland childhood and adolescence are periods of continuous growth and development.’
The most rational, sustainable and long-term solution to the problem of malnutrition is ensuring availability, accessibility and consumption of adequate amount of food, the press release stated.
The organisers mentioned that the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme, Food Security Act, mid-day meal and the nutrition programme Poshan Abhiyaan are the most important government programmes aimed at providing wholesome nutritious meals to children.
Realising the pivotal roles of these schemes in the overall development of the children, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights in collaboration with the state commission for protection of child rights, Nagaland organised the “review meeting cum consultation”
The main objective of the meeting was to assess available schemes and polices for malnourished and stunted children in Dimapur district; review the implementation of ICDS, mid-day meal, Poshan Abhiyaan and supplementary nutrition programmes in the district; discuss the challenges in effective delivery of nutrition services; to assess the gaps in availability of government schemes to the children, the press release stated.
The press release stated some of the major recommendations from the meeting: “Convergence between health and ICDS,” establishment of a district advisory body on nutrition, recommendation “can be given to the government on the nutritional content of state-sponsored meals schemes like mid-day meal; promotion of village health and nutrition days programmes and campaigns to combat malnutrition.
Further, it stated that existing policies and programmes can be strengthened by building their capacity through training and awareness program. Partnerships can be built to adopt specific districts and work for them to address malnutrition, the organisers stated.
“The institutional arrangement can be set to address the issue of malnutrition and other factors contributing to malnutrition. Better agriculture practices like promoting dry land agriculture kitchen gardens can be promoted,” the press release stated.
Similarly, the statement listed out recommendations stating that provisions of providing ration card migrating population can also address the issue of malnutrition; invest “heavily” in Social Welfare “can be done” and that “there should be an improvement in data collection on stunting and obesity.”
Further, Panchayats may be allowed a “bigger say” in running welfare schemes, the press release stated.
Other recommendations included diversification of the Public Distribution System, reinforcement and expansion of nutrition schemes for adolescent girls, and reviving and safeguarding forests as sustainable sources of food, the press release stated.