Rajya Sabha

July 17, 2019

Shanta Chhetri speaks during a Calling Attention Motion on malnutrition among women and children

Shanta Chhetri speaks during a Calling Attention Motion on malnutrition among women and children


Here are some numbers as per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4: one in every two women is anaemic, one in every three children is stunted, one in every three children is malnourished, one in every five children is wasted, and 37 out of 1000 babies do not live past the age of one.

The National Nutrition Mission has a very noble objective of eradicating malnutrition in India and has set some lofty targets for the year 2022. But let us look at the reality. In a recent Lok Sabha answer, the Minister had stated that of the total allocation of Rs 314217 lakh in the last two years, the amount utilised is Rs 56992 lakh, that is, only 18%.

My first question to the Minister is why there exists such a huge discrepancy and what steps have been taken to ensure 100% utilisation of funds?

The Minister also stated that various initiatives have been undertaken to raise awareness, like Poshan Pakhwada, Poshan Maah, IEC activities, and publicity through Facebook, Youtube, and Whatsapp, reaching out to crores of people.
My second question, whether Poshan Abhiyan is just an awareness campaign or has the Government taken some concrete steps at the ground level, like providing complementary diet of fortified rice and milk, Vitamin A supplements, 100% immunisation coverage, antenatal care, among others, to fight malnutrition? Please give us some numbers.

Bengal has taken giant strides to ensure the scourge of malnutrition is wiped out in the State. Bengal has the largest child nutrition intervention under the ICDS programme reaching out to 76 lakh children below 6 years and 14 lakh pregnant & lactating women spread across 23 districts. Energy dense protein rich ready to eat food “Poustik laddu/Poustik powder” has been introduced for all severely malnourished children. Hot cooked meal is provided to all children and pregnant and lactating mothers. Also, under Khadya Sathi scheme, nearly 8.5 crore people in the State receive foodgrains at Rs 2/kg.

These efforts have seen remarkable success. Percentage of underweight children has reduced from 34.43% in 2011 to 10.89% in 2018. Infant Mortality Rate has gone down from 32 in 2011 to 25 in 2016. During the same period, Maternal Mortality Rate has reduced from 113 to 101. 100% of children in Bengal are fully immunised.

My third question is, taking into account Bengal’s success in this regard, whether our State can be taken up as a national model and our schemes be duplicated across the country?