NITI Aayog organized a consultation workshop in the capital to evolve a robust nutrition strategy based on the examination of recent data on under-nutrition in the country. Titled, “ India’s Malnutrition: A call to action” the exercise was aimed at bringing together the key stakeholders– Central Ministries, States, Principal Secretaries of key departments and independent experts from AIIMS, the National Institution of Nutrition etc. and put together the views across a range of critical issues.
The meeting was chaired by NITI Aayog Member, Shri Bibek Debroy, along with CEO, Shri Amitabh Kant and Adviser, Health, Mr. Alok Kumar. The eminent participants at the consultation included Mr. Ratan Tata, Chairman of the Tata Trust and Ms.Veena Rao, Adviser, Karnataka Nutrition Mission..
The participants discussed at length the contours of the proposed National Nutrition Mission, real-time monitoring of child nutrition status and decision support system for program managers. The steps to induce behavioural change in the people’s attitude towards nutrition and the need for a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach nutrition emerged strongly at the consultation. “The consultation is on the right track. The forgotten National Nutrition Policy must be brought to life again, particularly in states where the action lies. The National Nutrition Mission, as announced in the Budget speech of 2014 must be finalized in accordance with the policy, and governance and implementation strategy must be devised to break malnutrition,” wrote former Chief Justice of India, M.N Venkatachaliah, in a letter to NITI Aayog, as he wasn’t able to attend the consultation on account of ill health.
The workshop comes in the backdrop of the current rates of undernutrition in India. Although India has registered a significant decline in the prevalence of ‘underweight’ and ‘stunted’ children, the prevalence of wasting and anaemia over the last decade (2005-06 to 2013-14) has been a major challenge for the country. The absolute number of malnourished children in the country remains persistently high and hence the need for urgent action. NITI Aayog, has been mandated the responsibility to develop a comprehensive Nutrition Strategy and implementation structure for India. The consultation workshop is yet another step in this direction.