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NUTRITION

NNM aimed at providing women & children with nutritious, hygienic food
Saturday, 30 June, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
The objective of the National Nutrition Mission (NNM) is to provide citizens, particularly women and children, with hygienic and nutritious food. It was launched earlier this year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after a series of significant works done on key determinants of nutrition.

Sridhar Venkat, chief executive officer, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, said, “Apart from covering undernourished children up to the age of six, the main objective of NNM is to look after hygiene of school-going kids and needy citizens, with special emphasis on pregnant women.”

The Union government, in September 2017, resolved to offer supplementary nutrition, through Anganwadi centres, to pregnant women, lactating mothers, children and adolescent girls. Consequently, the government revised the cost norms and linked it with the food price index.

As a result, the concept of NNM, or Poshan Abhiyaan, which is also termed as a flagship programme of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), Government of India, came forth.

It ensures convergence with various programmes like Anganwadi Services, Pradhan Mantri Matri Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG) of MWCD Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), the National Health Mission (NHM), Swachh Bharat Mission, the Public Distribution System (PDS), the Department of Food and Public Distribution, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

Commencing from the financial year 2017-18, NNM has been set for three years with an overall budget allocations of Rs 9,046.17 crore. This is a comprehensive approach towards raising the nutrition levels among children and pregnant women across the country on a war footing.

NNM comprises various schemes contributing towards addressing malnutrition, including ICT-based real-time monitoring system, incentivising different agencies in states and Union Territories (UTs), different works and activities of Anganwadi centres, social audits, setting up nutrition resource centres and involving common citizens through Jan Andolan, among others.

Besides finding out hidden diseases or other lacunae, addressing the issues related to the stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia (among young girls and women) and low birth weight are among other targets of NNM.

While, the initial target to reduce stunting is at least two per cent per annum, the agencies, with the launch of NNM, would strive to achieve reduction in stunting from 38.4 per cent (NFHS-4) to 25 per cent by 2022.

If truly implemented, the Mission will benefit more than 10 crore citizens across the country. The three-year-long plan, NNM would be executed in a phased manner from 2018 to 2020. While, altogether 315 districts will be covered in the year 2017-18, almost 235 people will be covered in 2018-19, and the remaining will be covered in 2019-20.

The creative efforts of the Union government is, however, being considered as a kind of life-saving kit for socially and economically weaker sections, especially those living in the remote rural areas of the society.

The vision of the prime minister is transparent and clearly reflects his pious thought towards creation of a healthy and strong social lives of all citizens. But now the question is whether, the government agencies alone, are capable enough to achieve the goal of NNM?

Here the answer may be in assertive or negative. But it is the established fact that a massive development or utmost success requires a wholesome effort. As such, the role of people participations, private organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) cannot be undermined.

With a proven experience of almost 18 years, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, a renowned NGO that has already bestowed its unforgettable memories since the inception of the School Lunch Programme in the year 2000, may play a pivotal role in proper implementation of NNM.

Venkat said, “It is important to ensure that the high standards of cleanliness and quality of meals that Akshaya Patra adheres to is maintained even after the food is delivered, right until it is consumed by children. In order to facilitate this, we plan to raise awareness among the school authorities and children.”

Noticeably, the Foundation’s unique lunch programme in primary and middle schools in Karnataka created another hope of rays among the below poverty line (BPL) families. As a result, the Supreme Court, in February 2001, passed a mandate in this regard.

“Cooked mid-day meal is to be provided in all the government and government-aided primary schools in all the states,” the apex court directive read.

Surprisingly, the Akshaya Patra Foundation was asked to put forth it’s testimonies to the Supreme Court.

Consequently, the Foundation’s School Lunch Programme emerged as a true guide for the India’s much-publicised mid-day meal scheme for school kids.

“In order to enhance the nutritional value of meals, we plan to include high-fibre, protein-rich millets and micro-nutrient dense fortified rice in our meals. We have started the millet integration project in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Similarly, over six lakh children are benefiting from our rice fortification programme,” said Venkat.

By serving 1.7 million children enrolled in over 14,173 schools in almost 12 states and Union Territories (UTs), the Akshay Patra Foundation has now emerged as one of the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) mid-day meal programme.
 
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