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No malnourished children, but food funds dwindle | India News


NEW DELHI: Despite the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 showing an increase in the proportion of children Children under five are chronically malnourished In many states, the government has cut its budget for its main nutrition program, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme, by more than Rs 5,000 million.
The huge reduction has had an impact on public health experts working on health, nutrition and the right to food.
After the increase in the proportion of underweight and stunted children revealed by the national survey, most had expected a substantial increase in the allocation for nutrition. However, although the FM spoke about the merger of the supplementary nutrition program and Poshan Abhiyan and an intensified strategy to improve nutritional outcomes in 112 aspirational districts, the annex to the speech indicated a cut of Rs 1 billion for nutrition.
A closer look at the budget documents shows that the budget for the Integrated Child Development Program (ICDS), the largest early childhood program for children under the age of 6, has been drastically reduced by over 5,000 rupees from 26,057 rupees to just 21,005 rupees. . The program provides food, preschool education, immunization, and health check-ups through anganwadis at the village level.

No malnourished children, but food funds dwindle | India News

“It was expected that since a phase of Poshan Abhiyan has ended and has not achieved its goal, as shown by the NFHS-5, there would be an increase in funding. It is disappointing that in the current situation of hunger and malnutrition that people in this country face, the Union budget has reduced allocations for crucial food and nutrition schemes such as the ICDS, midday meals and maternity rights ”, said Dipa Sinha of the Campaign for the Right to Food.
Some components of the old general ICDS scheme have been broken up and beaten differently with other schemes, making comparison difficult. However, it is clear that most components have faced budget cuts (see chart). The flagship nutrition scheme has been renamed Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0.
The allocation for the midday meal program has increased slightly from Rs 11,000 crore in the budget estimates for the current year to Rs 11,500 crore, but has fallen by Rs 1,400 crore compared to the revised estimates for 2020-21 of Rs 12,900 crore.
“It’s inexplicable. There is absolutely no knowledge of what NFHS-5 tells us and what the experience of the pandemic has been. We expected an increase in ICDS as a critical intervention to reduce malnutrition, ”said Dr. Vandana Prasad of the Public Health Resources Network.
“Only by signing a letter do you add the responsibilities of the Anganwadi workers, but you will not get decent pay. Anganwadi services have just restarted and this is a slap in the face from Anganwadi workers who have been working so hard even during Covid for such a miserable sum, ”said Dr. Prasad adding that instead of the pandemic is creating a new normal in terms of social security, things were regressing / getting worse.

Times of India