India is home to the highest number of malnourished children in the world--over 57 million of the global total of 147 million malnourished children. Chronic malnutrition leads to stunting--39% children are stunted, and is the leading cause of child mortality. In those who survive, it results in impaired physical growth and cognitive development, lifelong. Further, the impact is inter-generational--adolescent, anaemic, unhealthy mothers give birth to underweight babies, who in turn, grow into stunted children.
NUTRITION THEME STRATEGIC INITIATIVE
Our aim is to reduce stunting in states such as Odisha (where the problem is especially severe) so as to enhance the health of generations, present and future. We beleive a multi-sectoral approach is necessary to foster greater cooperation across state departments, improve quality ante and postnatal care. We hope to strengthen better reach and coverage of Health, Nutrition, Water and Sanitation (HNWASH) services as also, Agriculture, Livelihoods, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries while empowering deprived communities to access their benefits and entitlements.
Hence, we have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Odisha, which aims to create a momentum towards addressing malnutrition and bring about:
Our committment to support efforts to tackle undernutrition in Odisha involve intervention in the 1,000-day window--the time period between a woman’s conception and the first two years of her child’s life. Research shows that providing the right nutrition in this period, can positively and profoundly impact both mother and child. On a larger scale, this can also shape a society’s long-term health, stability and prosperity. However, we are also convinced that a holistic approach considering all factors that impact malnutrition will be more effective. After all, unsanitary living conditions, unavailability of clean water and nutritious food grains and lack of education or livelihood opportunities worsen malnutrition.
We have rolled out a large scale Odisha Nutrition Action Plan (ONAP) that will:
Its guiding principles include--enhancing existing health and nutrition interventions, supporting Government policies and processes, making the approaches sustainable by boosting the capability of community networks, and promoting gender equality by working with men and women, boys and girls (so women/girls have more control over their bodies, nutrition, diet and health). Apart from bringing together various Government departments, we shall also support NGOs and community-based organisations working across these various sectors, private companies, as well as the media so that nutrition becomes everyone’s business.