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Underweight Children in the Country

New Delhi. The estimated number of underweight children with 42.5 per cent would be 5,62,37,872 in under five population as per National Family Health Survey 3 (NFHS3- 2005-06).

The Government has accorded high priority to the issue of malnutrition in the country and is implementing several schemes/programmes of different Ministries/Departments through State Governments/UT Administrations. The schemes/programmes include the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Schemes for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) namely SABLA,  Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojna (IGMSY) as direct targeted interventions. Besides, indirect Multi-sectoral interventions include Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), National Horticulture Mission, National Food Security Mission, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, National Rural Drinking Water Programme etc. All these schemes have potential to address one or other aspect of Nutrition.

Under NRHM, the remedial steps taken are as follows:

-        Promotion of appropriate infant and young child feeding practices that include early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding till 6 months of age.
-        Management of malnutrition and common neonatal and childhood illnesses at community and facility level by training service providers in IMNCI (Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses) training.
-        Treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition at special units called the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres (NRCs), set up at public health facilities. Presently 639 such centres are functional all over the country.
-        Specific program to prevent and combat micronutrient deficiencies of Vitamin A and Iron & Folic Acid.  Vitamin A supplementation for children till the age of 5 years and Iron & Folic Acid supplementation for children 6 to 60 months. ‘National Iron plus Initiative’ has been launched recently to undertake supervised administration of IFA syrup in under five children.
-        Village Health and Nutrition Days and Mother and Child Protection Card are the joint initiative of the Ministries of Health & Family welfare and the Ministry of Woman and Child for addressing the nutrition concerns in children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
-        Nutrition Education on VHNDs (Village Health and Nutrition Days) to increase the awareness to bring about desired changes in the dietary practices including the promotion of breastfeeding.
-     Growth monitoring of children up to three years  by promoting use of Mother and Child Protection card.
This information was given by the Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare Shri Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury in written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.