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SAGA CORNER

Declare malnutrition as a national emergency, civil society

Civil society groups have asked the government to declare malnutrition a national emergency and improve public accountability and transparency to ensure equitable and timely access to services through existing schemes.It has recommended establishment of an empowered National food and Nutrition Commission chaired by the Prime Minister and similarinstitutional arrangements at the State level to be headed by the Chief Ministers of the respective States are necessary to ensure action on ground.

In a joint civil society declaration “The Delhi Declaration on Sustainable Development Goal for Health 2016’’ the civil society groups have asked the State and Central governments to bring nutrition at the forefront of public policy with a focus on the `First 1000 days—from pregnancy to the first two years of a child—promote life cycle approached of nutrition, health and education support to adolescent girls.

Address all forms of malnutrition such as under-nutrition, obesity, micronutrient deficiency, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in a comprehensive and integrated approach through revitalizing food and farming system, promoting nutrition sensitive agriculture, strengthening food value chain, integrated sanitation including hygiene and safe drinking water, the declaration said.

To bring out a policy breakthrough in revolutionizing dry land agriculture, the declaration said Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for minor millets and coarse grains that is twice the procurement prices of rise and conversion of all Anganwadi centers into daylong crèches so that the 0-3 cohort could be incentivised to attend.

To check unfair trade practices and ensure access to safe and nutritious food, the Food Safety Authority should work in a responsive manner to ensure access to safe and nutritious food. Linking NREGA to promote kitchen garden and bio fortified crops on government-owned land and expediting the implementation of Section 4 B of the National Food Security Act, 2013, under which pregnant women are entitled to at least Rs 6,000/- as maternity benefits are some other suggestions made in the Delhi declaration.

“”To work towards creating an enabling environment and develop mechanism for transparency and accountability and ensure periodic progress review of targets and indicators to feed into policies and programmes so that no one is left behind. To empower the local government institutionsto ensure accountability and promote sustainable food and nutrition security,”” the declaration said.

To complement the efforts of the Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) and the AWW to spread nutrition awareness at the household level and address the chronic issue of exclusion and gender disparity, the declaration has suggested promoting women change leaders at each hamlet as hunger and malnutrition.  A composite incentive scheme with reward and recognition of grass root workers and volunteers to be designed to increase the morale and motivation, it said while adding finding context-specific solutions to key problems and re-energize and reform India’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), agriculture, food and health sector programme.

In addition to establishing a National Grid of naturally bio fortified gardens and bio fortified crops, the declaration has said to promote the decentralized bottom up planning, intra-departmental coordination and management, monitoring and empowerment (training/orientation) as the bedrock of coordination, convergence and governance.

Introduction of special programmes and institutional mechanism, for tribal concentrated blocks and districts to focus on food insecure and malnutrition hot spots and to protect public interest and ensure effective enforcement of the Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of production, supply and distribution), Act 1992, it said.

To enhance data integrity and set the nutrition surveillance, data and baseline, the country’s nutritious rich foods, plants and species specifically grown in the forest area should be mapped. Introduce occupation based nutrition indexing to provide informed choices to each citizen, cutting edge nationwide nutrition survey, nutrition Surveillance system, with quick response in vulnerable hot spots. Introduce IT enabled monitoring to track the services and supplies, the declaration said.”

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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