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Bridging the malnutrition gap, the Bemetara way

  • Published
    7th Sep, 2023

Context:

Nutrition counselling is a simple but powerful strategy as the experience in the Bemetara district in Chhattisgarh showcased recently.

Recognizing Nutrition Counselling

  • Simple Solutions, Significant Impact: Simplicity often leads to sophistication, and in addressing malnutrition, counselling people on proper eating and feeding practices can be highly effective.
  • Government Efforts: The government has made strides in food security, offering mid-day meals in schools and public distribution of rations. Various state-specific schemes distribute nutritional supplements.
  • Need for Nutrition Counselling: While awareness campaigns exist under schemes like POSHAN Abhiyaan, nutrition counselling has not been systematically implemented. Proper training and uniform adoption of nutrition counselling are essential for addressing this gap.

The Bemetara Model

  • Malnutrition Paradox: Bemetara, a relatively affluent district in Chhattisgarh, faces severe acute malnutrition despite its agricultural prosperity. This highlights the significance of proper knowledge about feeding practices.
  • Potth Laika Abhiyaan: A nutrition counselling program called "Potth Laika Abhiyaan" has been implemented in 72 severely affected Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) in Bemetara. Ground-level staff trained in nutrition counselling educates parents on balanced diets, hygiene, and dispel dietary myths.
  • Positive Outcomes: In nine months, this program led to a 53.77% improvement in malnutrition among targeted children. Monitoring and evaluation played a crucial role, making this a cost-effective solution.

Scaling Up Nutrition Counselling Nationwide

  • Replication of Success: The Potth Laika Abhiyaan model, combining nutrition counselling with monitoring, should be replicated across districts and states. It's a cost-effective approach with significant positive outcomes.
  • Need for Comprehensive Strategy: Providing food to the underprivileged must be complemented by nutrition counselling and monitoring to effectively combat malnutrition.
  • Achieving "Kuposhan Mukt Bharat": Implementing nutrition counselling as part of a holistic strategy can help India move closer to its goal of a "Kuposhan Mukt Bharat" (Malnutrition-Free India).
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