Plan to Improve Pregnant Women's Nutrition

By Outlook Planet Desk March 18, 2023

Mission Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 aim to harness time-tested conventional wisdom in community nutritional practices

Plan to Improve Pregnant Women's Nutrition
Maternal Nutrition, Infant and Young Child Feeding Norms are at the core of the mission. DepositPhotos

A written reply given by the Minister of Women And Child Development (MWCD) Smriti Zubin Irani in Lok Sabha today revealed that Ayush practices have been taken into consideration under Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 for the holistic nourishment of children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers. These practices centre on disease prevention and wellness promotion through yoga, the cultivation of medicinal herbs in Poshan Vatikas, and the use of AYUSH formulations to treat underlying disorders.

Beneficiaries receive supplemental nourishment through a network of 13.97 lakh AWC spread around the nation, which provides morning snacks, hot cooked meals, and take home rations (not raw ration). The Supplemental Nutrition Programme's main goal is to close the intake gap between the average daily intake and the recommended dietary allowance. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has recommended state governments to support dietary diversity, agro-climatic regional meal plans, and adoption of AYUSH practices in the Supplemental Nutrition Programme (SNP).

The "Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0" Integrated Nutrition Support Programme scheme of MWCD has received government approval for the 15th Finance Commission period 2021–2025–26. The "Common Core" of Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 focuses on Maternal Nutrition, Infant and Young Child Feeding Norms, Treatment Protocols for SAM/MAM, and Wellness through AYUSH practices to lower the prevalence of stunting and anaemia in addition to wasting and under-weight.

The mission hopes to utilise tried-and-true conventional wisdom in local nutritional practices through the use of Ayush formulations and straightforward Ayurvedic interventions to enhance digestion, increase nutrient absorption, treat anaemia, and assist in the management of malnutrition for the holistic nourishment of kids, expectant mothers, and nursing mothers.

How Mission SakshamAnganwadi and Poshan 2.0 see convergence with the Ministry of Ayush is by providing Poshan Vatikas technical support, medicinal plants and saplings; providing recommendations for regional dishes that incorporate foods growing nearby, such as red rice, different millets, and veggies, giving advice on various AYUSH techniques and/or items that have been utilised to lower wasting, anaemia, low birth weight, and strengthen immunity. An Ayush component has been included in the Take-Home Ration for pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children in several parts of the nation.

Also, the Ministry has endorsed and distributed to all States and UTs the Ministry of Ayush's particular guidelines for pregnant women with anaemia and malnourished children, as well as the Ministry's general dietary advice.

According to the guidelines for the programme, the District-in-charge Ayush Officer serves on the District Nutrition Committee, which is presided over by the District Magistrate.

In AWCs and homes, emphasise disease prevention and health promotion through yoga.

Locate fruit trees, medicinal plants, and herbs that can be grown in Poshan Vatikas.

The guidelines placed a strong emphasis on scaling up effective anaemia management initiatives, such as the "Drakshavaleha" pilot programme and the promotion of AYUSH diet use under Poshan 2.0 in collaboration with Anganwadi Centers and Schools.

Poshan Vatikas (Nutri-Gardens) should be established at or close to Anganwadi Centers (AWC), state-owned schools, and on Gram Panchayat grounds where mothers and children are most likely to benefit. This will help to provide food security and diet diversity to address malnutrition at the community level; address malnutrition related to micronutrient deficiency; and supplement staple-based diets/rations with a significant amount of macro and micronutrients to meet requirements for essential nutrients.