Fortified foods are those in which extra nutrients are added like Vitamin A, B, D, folic acid, iodine, and iron, etc.
New Delhi: Flagging off issues like slow progress on important indicators like the infant mortality rate (IMR), life expectancy and malnutrition as well as inadequate number of toilets and high out-of-pocket spending on health, the Niti Aayog, underlining the significance of improving nutritional standards as well as sanitation in India, has suggested the Centre should launch a National Nutrition Mission to address these concerns.
The mission, which would be an expanded version of the Prime Minister’s nutrition council, can include a few chief ministers on a rotation basis, could seek cooperation from the private sector for incorporating fortified food and gradually incorporating it into the public distribution system (PDS) and aanganwadi centres as well as in mid-day meal scheme, to ensure better nutrition intake for poor children, the Niti Aayog has indicated.
In a detailed presentation by the government think tank to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), it has advocated that the nutrition mission should engage the private sector for fortification of wheat, flour, rice, edible oils and milk. These can then be included into PDS shops and aanganwadi centres initially in high-priority districts. The presentation is part of the government’s action agenda on health which is to cover the next three years till 2019-2020.
It has prioritised adequate investment of public financial resources in health, greater focus on preventive and public health and a data-driven and more decentralised approach to designing health systems.
Fortified foods are those in which extra nutrients are added like Vitamin A, B, D, folic acid, iodine, and iron, etc. The actual motive behind food fortification is to decrease the occurrence of nutrient deficiencies.
Setting up of a technical secretariat at Niti Aayog for servicing the Prime Minister’s nutrition council could help in better coordination of these measures, sources informed this newspaper.
The Aayog has further indicated that the government should develop a full-fledged Web-enabled nutrition information system. It could be done by synergising with the health management information system, mother and child tracking system and also by incorporating data from Swachch Bharat mission.
Suggesting better convergence by synchronising the take-home ration component of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) with the maternity benefit programme, the think tank has said some pilot projects could be initiated in a few districts to test the efficacy of implementing the ICDS supplementary nutrition component through a conditional cash transfer route directly into the mother’s Jan Dhan account.
Focusing on drinking water and sanitation, the Niti Aayog has underlined the need for continuous uninterrupted water supply to 1,79,000 partially covered habitations. Also it has called for treating a minmum of 26,500 arsenic and fluoride-affected habitations.
Identifying the significance of toilets, the government has been asked to construct an additional 55 million household toilets and 1,15,000 community toilets in rural areas.
In addition, the Aayog has highlighted that six million individual household toilets will also be required, including conversion of insanitary latrines into pour flush in urban areas to end open defecation by 2019.