Underscoring the need for all departments to come together while addressing the problem of malnutrition, prime minister Manmohan Singh has said that existing programmes should be restructured if they are not helping in removing the scourge.
“Malnutrition or under-nutrition is a complex problem caused by multiple factors and has long-term consequences on the growth, development and well-being of our nation,” Singh said in his remarks at the first meeting of the nutrition council last evening. He said there was a need to address the issues of health and nutrition of adolescent girls, pregnant mothers, and children under the age of two.
“If the existing programmes are not addressing these issues adequately we need to restructure them,” he said, adding this should be accompanied by an examination of the public distribution system, mid-day meal scheme, National Rural Health Mission, total sanitation campaign and other schemes which can play a part in tackling malnutrition.
“Under-nutrition is not a problem for one particular department or ministry to deal with. A convergence of ideas and action is needed at all levels at the centre, state, district, block and gram panchayat. We need effective institutional mechanisms to ensure this,” he said.
The meeting, which was chaired by Singh, was attended among others by agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, human resources development minister Kapil Sibal, rural development minister C P Joshi, Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia and minister of state for women and child development, Krishna Tirath, besides members of the commission.
Some of the suggestions include strengthening and restructuring of the ICDS and launching a multi-sectoral programme to address maternal and child malnutrition in selected 200 high-burden districts.