The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, has launched the Bharatiya Poshan Krishi Kosh, to reduce malnourishment across India.
Launched by WCD Minister, Smriti Irani, along with Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, on November 18, 2019, the programme is designed to create a repository of diverse crops across 128 agro-climatic zones in India for better nutritional outcomes. With , the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a partner, one of the major objectives of the programme is to encourage healthy dietary practices and thus maintain healthy lifestyle.
Dr M.S. Swaminathan, regarded as the father of Green Revolution, in a video message spoke about the five-point action programme with the aim of freeing India from the clutches of malnutrition. While addressing the gathering, Swaminathan spoke about the consequences that malnourishment can have on children, affecting their physical as well as mental health. He also reached out to the WCD ministry, stressing on the necessity of getting the five point plan to action for the benefit of the mothers as well as children.
He called upon the ministry to encourage in setting up a group of people, or community hunger fighters, who could be trained to tackle the menace of malnourishment faced by the women and children in many parts of India by following the five-point action programme.
Five-Point Action Programme:
1. Ensuring calorie-rich diet for women, especially pregnant women and children.
2. Ensuring that protein is imparted to the children and women through cereals and pulses.
3. To eradicate hunger due to micronutrient deficiency, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Iron and Zinc.
4. To ensure proper clean drinking water
5. To spread awareness and literacy in every village, especially among women and children less than 100-days-old.
WCD Minister Smriti Irani in her address at the gathering, stressed on the necessity of convergence between agriculture and nutrition for efficiently tackling the problem of malnutrition. She said that it was a unique idea where a tech giant has collaborated with several farmers and civil society members on the same platform to fight against malnutrition.
She further lauded the government for its efficacy in addressing the challenges malnourishment, availability of drinking water and sanitation. She also said that strong focus is being laid on toilet construction and menstrual hygiene to provide health security to women on children.
Founder of Microsoft Corporation Bill Gates said at the event that fighting malnutrition in India will bolster India’s development and thus help in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.Stating that India’s National Nutrition Mission has sparked a new energy needed to eradicate malnutrition, he said that in most cases, malnutrition becomes the cause of death of children below five years of age.
From Uttapam to Sprouted Dal Parantha
In an attempt to curb malnutrition among children in India, UNICEF has released a booklet titled "From Uttapam to Sprouted Dal Parantha”. on tackling problems such and obesity, underweight and anemia among children by consuming food items less than Rs. 20.
UNICEF India came up with the booklet in the aftermath of the release of the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) 2016-18, which revealed that 35 per cent of children India under 5 years of age suffer from stunting, while 17 per cent are wasted.
The 28-page booklet lays down recipes of freshly prepared food items, also stating the cost of preparation of each item listed in it. Several items such Upma, Poha, and Sprouted Dal Paratha, and Sago cutlets are listed in the booklet.
The book provides an insight into the break-up of the nutrient content of a recipe, such as carbohydrate content, fat, protein content, etc. of each and every recipe listed in the booklet.
In addition to giving useful information about the recipes, UNICEF has also released a supplement book which is based on causes and long-term impact of health issues, such as underweight, obesity and anemia on the health of the children. It has also touched upon eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
Speaking on this initiative, UNICEF chief Henrietta H Fore said that the book gives a brief idea of what is nutritious and what is not.
“The first is in the first 1000 days of a child and for that we need to teach the young mothers and second is when you are in adolescence and for that we need to go to schools,” she said.
"The first one would require healthcare workers at hospitals t is at that time you can teach a young mother about nutrition and the second one is at adolescence when it can be communicated through teachers knowledge of nutritious food needs to be brought into school and made part of the curriculum," she added.
She stated that such brochures act as reminders that children should always be given nutritious foods packed for lunch.