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NAINITAL: A meeting of the Consultative Committee of Parliament on “Malnutrition in Women and Children: Problems and Remedies”, chaired by Union Minister of State for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath, was held here over the weekend. The meeting was attended by Ministry officials and Members of Parliament. Ms. Tirath spoke about malnutrition in India and how it affects women and children. Quoting data from the National Family Health Surveys, she gave an assessment of the causes for prevalence of malnutrition in these two groups and how it affects the economy of the country.
To tackle this challenge, Ms. Tirath suggested a “convergence of multi-sectoral actions and flagship programmes” and “proper governance and political commitment” at the State level to improve existing conditions. She emphasised the role of the proposed State Nutrition Councils in this regard.
The existing programmes that deal with nutrition in women and children directly or indirectly include Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), National Rural Health Mission (NHRM), Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Total Sanitation Campaign and National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).
Stressing the importance of access of under-nourished women and children to quality food, Ms. Tirath talked about the need to have effective public-private partnership to be able to use latest technology and management skills in existing food distribution schemes like ICDS, Mid-Day Meals and Public Distribution System.
Ms. Tirath has visited six States so far to assess the malnutrition situation in different parts of the country and said she intends to visit all States and Union Territories for further appraisal. She visited aanganwadi centres in Nainital and took note of the existing situation and suggested measures for improvement. The MPs present at the meeting agreed that effective monitoring and greater accountability at all levels was essential, and stressed the need to provide sanitation, safe drinking water and food for people in the villages in order to deal with the problem of malnutrition.
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