Special Content


Issue no 24, 11-17 September 2021

Poshan Maah

The nutritional status of the people is internationally recognized as an indicator of national development. Nutrition is both an input and output of the development process. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is not only the absence of disease but a state of complete mental and physical wellbeing in relation to the productivity and performance of an individual. A well-nourished, healthy workforce is a precondition for successful socio-economic and sustainable development.

In order to promote nutritional status of the citizens and bring nutrition to the centre-stage of the National Development Agenda, Government of India launched Poshan Abhiyaan in 2018. It is a multi-ministerial convergence mission with a vision to address malnutrition in a targeted approach. To ensure community mobilisation and bolster people's participation, every year the month of September is celebrated as Rashtriya Poshan Maah across the country. The objective of the Poshan Maah is to encourage Jan Bhagidaari, in order to create a Jan Andolan, for addressing malnutrition amongst young children, and women and to ensure health and nutrition for everyone.

What is POSHAN Abhiyaan?

POSHAN Abhiyaan is Government of India's flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes for children, adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers. Launched by Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi on the occasion of International Women's Day on March 8, 2018 from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan, the POSHAN (Prime Minister's Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition) Abhiyaan directs the attention of the country towards the problem of malnutrition and address it in a missionmode.

POSHAN Abhiyaan is a Jan Andolan or "People's Movement" that incorporates inclusive participation of public representatives of local bodies, Government Departments of the States/UTs, social organizations and the public and private sector, at large.

Launched with a noble and holistic goal, POSHAN Abhiyaan overall intends to increase nutritional awareness and responsiveness among the targeted members of the population and also their family members including husbands, fathers, mothers-in-law and community members, health care providers (ANM, ASHA, Anganwadi worker) about vital nutrition behaviours.

 The POSHAN Maah intends to achieve the holistic goals of POSHAN Abhiyaan with swiftness in a harmonized manner. All the Departments of the Government and other associated organisations have adopted an integrated approach towards accomplishing a target of malnutrition-free India.

Focus of the POSHAN Maah this year:

As India is celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the aim is to not just give impetus to social and economic areas but to also have a healthy nation. To ensure speedy and intensive outreach, the entire month has been subdivided into weekly themes for focused and assimilated approach towards improving holistic nutrition. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has planned a series of activities throughout the month in tandem with the States/UTs.

 The wide gamut of activities during the POSHAN Maah this year will broadly focus on Plantation Drive for POSHAN VATIKA (Nutri Gardens) by all the stakeholders in the space available at Anganwadis, school premises, Gram Panchayats and other places. Plantation activity will focus on planting of saplings of nutritious fruit trees, local vegetables and medicinal plants and herbs. Sensitization/awareness drive for COVID vaccination and observance of COVID Protocols will also be held.

There will be a special drive for height and weight measurement for children (under 6 years of age) during the POSHAN Maah. Slogan-writing and recipe competitions will be organized to highlight the nutritional value of locally available food for pregnant women.

There will be sessions on "5-minute Yoga Protocol" (Ybreak or Yoga break) at various workplaces for the employees of Government and corporate bodies, Awareness campaign on importance of regional/local food, distribution of Nutrition Kits comprising of regional nutritious food (eg. Sukadi-Gujarat, Panjiri- Punjab, Sattu- Bihar, Chikki- Maharashtra), anaemia camps, drives for block wise identification of SAM (Severe Acute Malnutrition) children, supervised supplementary feeding program for SAM children as an initiative to tackle prevalence of SAM in children up to the age of 5 years, sensitisation for community management of acute malnutrition and distribution of nutritious food for SAM children.

During the POSHAN Maah, activities related to nutrition awareness will be carried out across all the States/UTs right up to the grassroot levels. The implementing departments /agencies like women and child development department through Anganwadi workers, health and family welfare department through ASHA, ANM, primary health centres, community health centres, school education and literacy department through schools, Panchayati Raj departments through panchayats, and rural development through self-help groups will carry out the activities and spread the message of holistic nutrition throughout the month to ensure a healthier future for women and children.

The following table highlights the thematic approach being followed this year:

Dates (Weekly)

Themes

September 1-7

Plantation Activity as "Poshan Vatika"

September 8-15

Yoga and AYUSH for Nutrition

September 16-23

Distribution of 'Regional Nutrition Kit' to Anganwadi beneficiaries of High Burdened Districts

September 24-30

Identification of SAM children and distribution of nutritious food

Focusing on the aims of POSHAN Abhiyaan, Mission Poshan 2.0 (Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0) was announced in the Budget 2021-2022 as an integrated nutrition support programme, to strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach and outcomes with focus on developing practices that nurture health, wellness and immunity to disease and malnutrition.

The activities in POSHAN Maah focus on Social Behavioural Change and Communication. The National Nutrition Month has eight key themes, namely, Antenatal Care, Optimal Breastfeeding, Complementary Feeding, Anaemia, Growth Monitoring, Education; Diet and Right Age of Marriage for Girls, Hygiene and Sanitation and Food fortification. Besides being focal themes in the POSHAN Maah, these areas have seen several other Government initiatives. One such programme is the Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan, launched by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), aims to provide assured, comprehensive and quality antenatal care, free of cost, universally to all pregnant women on the 9th of every month. PMSMA guarantees a minimum package of antenatal care services to women in their 2nd/3rd trimesters of pregnancy at designated government health facilities The programme follows a systematic approach for engagement with private sector which includes motivating private practitioners to volunteer for the campaign developing strategies for generating awareness and appealing to the private sector to participate in the Abhiyan at government health facilities.

MAA ("Mother's Absolute Affection") is a nationwide programme of the MoHFW in an attempt to bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding and provision of counselling services for supporting breastfeeding through health systems. The programme has been named 'MAA' to signify the support a lactating mother requires from family members and at health facilities to breastfeed successfully. The goal of the 'MAA' Programme is to revitalize efforts towards promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding practices through health systems to achieve higher breastfeeding rates. The objectives of the programme are to build an enabling environment for breastfeeding through awareness generation activities, targeting pregnant and lactating mothers, family members and society in order to promote optimal breastfeeding practices, to reinforce lactation support services at public health facilities through trained healthcare providers and through skilled community health workers, and to incentivize and recognize those health facilities that show high rates of breastfeeding along with processes in place for lactation management.

The Government has also issued the National Guidelines on Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) that is aimed at bringing about improvement in optimal feeding practices for infants and young children and raise awareness for achieving optimal feeding practices. The Integrated Child Development Services Scheme, for early childhood care and development, is targetted at children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers. Under the Anganwadi Services Scheme, counselling is provided to pregnant women and lactating mothers on infant and young child feeding practices. The Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) provides cash incentives to pregnant women and lactating Mothers. Recent amendment in the Maternity Benefit Act is another important step in strengthening the IYCF practices.

Home Based Care for Young Children (HBYC) has been initiated as an extension of Home Based Newborn Care (HBNC) to provide community-based care by ASHA workers with focus on improvement in child rearing practices, nutrition counselling and breastfeeding promotion till 15th month of life. Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Days (VHSNDs) are observed for provision of maternal and child health services and creating awareness on maternal and child care in convergence with the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Health and nutrition education through mass and social media is also promoted to improve healthy practices and to generate demand for service uptake.

The importance of nutrition in our lives was emphasized by Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi in one of the episodes of "Mann ki Baat". He drew attention towards the role played by nutrition in helping children and students to attain their optimum potential. He also noted the efforts made during the past few years especially in villages where public participation in Nutrition Week and Nutrition Month (POSHAN Maah) is converting nutrition awareness into a mass movement.

 

Compiled by Annesha Banerjee & Anuja Bhardwajan

Source: POSHAN Abhiyaan/MoWCD/NHP/PIB