The supplementary nutrition programme and the Poshan Abhiyaan under the Women and Child Development Ministry have been merged to launch Mission Poshan 2.0 to strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcome, according to the Union Budget announced on Monday. Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said Mission Poshan 2.0 will focus on overall health-wellbeing of the beneficiary and integrated approach in the delivery of nutrition services will reinforce the fight against malnutrition. “Mission POSHAN 2.0, prioritizing 112 aspirational districts, will develop practices that will nurture health, wellness and immunity of children and pregnant women thereby making a concerted effort towards eradicating malnutrition from its roots,” Irani tweeted.
Out of Rs 24,435 crore allocated to the WCD ministry, an amount of Rs 20,105 crore has been assigned to Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0.
Mission POSHAN 2.0, prioritizing 112 aspirational districts, will develop practices that will nurture health, wellness & immunity of children and pregnant women thereby making a concerted effort towards eradicating malnutrition from its roots. #AatmanirbharBharatKaBudget
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) February 1, 2021
“To strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcome, we will merge the Supplementary Nutrition Programme and the Poshan Abhiyaan and launch the Mission Poshan 2.0. We shall adopt an intensified strategy to improve nutritional outcomes across 112 aspirational districts,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her Budget speech.
Poshan 2.0 scheme in an umbrella scheme covering the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Anganwadi Services, Poshan Abhiyaan, Scheme For Adolescent Girls and National Creche Scheme.
Healthcare experts and NGOs have welcomed the launch of Poshan Mission 2.0, saying it will help tackle the complex issue of malnutrition which is dependent upon various factors.
Dr Sujeet Ranjan, Executive Director, Centre for Food and Nutrition Security, New Delhi termed it a “great move” to strengthen public health in the country.
“India is not just fighting COVID-19 outbreak but is also battling existing undernutrition in the country. The data from NFHS-5 reveals the importance of nutrition than ever before as the nutrition indicators have not fared well.
“We know that malnutrition is a complex condition that can involve multiple factors. Nutrition specific and sensitive interventions should be targeted more to reduce multiple forms of malnutrition,” he said.
The Budget 2021 has given a road map to boost the efforts already initiated to take the agenda of nutrition in a mission mode.
Dr Sheila Vir, Director, Public Health Nutrition and Development said, the Budget announced Poshan Mission 2.0 would be effective only if feeding and not mere provision gets the budget share.
“Good news in this Budget 2021 is that the allocation for health has increased which will positively impact nutrition through improvements in preventive health measures such as child immunisation, effective antenatal care and newborn care through the network of health and wellness clinics which get a push in the Budget.
“Additionally, the Budget refers to investment in drinking water, streamlining PDS and agriculture aid and education. All these enhanced investments are in the right direction for improving nutrition situation,” Vir said.
Dr Jaideep Malhotra, former President of Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecologists Society of India (FOGSI) and founder of the Infertility Centre of Rainbow IVF called it a “well-drafted” Budget under extremely challenging conditions, which is focusing on all the important sectors.
“For us to jump-start towards normalcy, it is pertinent that the focus on health is of paramount importance and we can only build it up, not only with infrastructure, technology and equipment; equal focus and boost is needed for the healthcare providers,” she said.
Child rights NGO Save the Children, in a statement, also welcomed the intent to strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach and outcome with the merger of the supplementary nutritional programme and the Poshan Abhiyan for the launch the Mission POSHAN 2.0.
“This is the right step towards reversing the impact of COVID-19 on the nutritional needs of children,” it said.
However, it is important to ensure that the most marginalised families and communities are given priority. Overall, the focus on health system strengthening, making systems ready to face future diseases and epidemics and greater allocation of budget for nutrition outcomes is a positive development, the child rights body said.
Priti Mahara, Director of Policy Research and Advocacy at CRY said keeping in mind the huge impact created by the COVID-19 pandemic on marginalised children, while the Union Budget 2021-22 has rightfully stressed upon the issues related to child health and nutrition and has launched Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0.
Dr Ketan Bharadva, President Infant-Young Child Feeding Chapter of Indian Academy of Pediatrics, said the major allocations to the health sector was well awaited since 2014.
“Now after pre-planning stage of last 3 years, the major activities will be launched especially in nutritional health, thus in next three years we will see a significant improvement in health of citizens,” Bharadva said.
The National Family Health Survey-5 which was released in December presented a grim scenario according to which malnutrition increased among children in 2019-20 from 2015-16 in 22 states and UTs.