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Vice President urges policymakers to keep welfare of children as top priority in development efforts

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The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today urged the governments and policymakers to keep the welfare of the children as top priority in their development efforts. He also called for citizens’ proactive participation in eradicating the scourge of malnutrition.

Addressing the gathering after releasing ‘POSHAN Anthem’ at an event organized by the Ministry of Women and Child Development today, the Vice President said that adequate nutrition to every child must be the first step in ensuring a healthy nation. He described healthy population as a prerequisite for fulfilling nation’s economic and social development goals.

“Children are the future of nation and their health is a prerequisite for the development and prosperity of the nation. It is the responsibility of all to ensure that our children get the best childhood possible,” he added.

Shri Naidu appreciated the role of POSHAN Abhiyan in improving nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers. He also emphasized that activities such as POSHAN Abhiyaan must assume the shape of people’s movement to achieve the target of malnutrition free India by 2022. He called for establishing coordination among various agencies, departments of both central and state governments to ensure the best implementation of POSHAN Abhiyaan.

Calling Anganwadi Workers, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANMs) as nutrition-warriors and change agents, Shri Naidu called for investing more in their training and capacity building.

Pointing out that malnutrition was a key domain that requires greater attention, the Vice President opined that there was an urgent need to bring in positive change in society towards aspects such as right age of marriage, hygiene and sanitation, eating healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The Vice President also sought the attention of policymakers and specialists and nutritionists on the crucial aspect of nutritional security and said that it was important to address micronutrient malnutrition in the country through supplementation, food fortification, and bio-fortification.

Maintaining that ensuring a nutrition-filled, healthy childhood for every child was the responsibility of all. Shri Naidu highlighted the importance of better use of technology (ICT) for real-time growth monitoring and tracking of women and children thus promoting well-being at all ages.

On the occasion, the Vice President appreciated all the participants of the Anthem competition and lauded the government for employing this innovative method and said that the anthem would play a key role in spreading the message of the Poshan Abhiyan (National Nutrition Mission). He also called for translating the Poshan Anthem in other Indian languages also to maximize its reach and impact.

At the end of the event, the Poshan Anthem was sung live by its lyricist Shri Pasoon Joshi and its composer Shri Shankar Mahadevan.

The Minister of Women and Child Development, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of State, Women and Child Development, Sushri Debasree Chaudhuri, Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog, Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Women & Child Development, Shri Rabindra Panwar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Women & Child Development, Shri Ajay Tirkey were among the dignitaires present on the occasion.

Following is the full text of the speech –

“Namashkar

I am extremely happy to be here with all of you today for the release of ‘POSHAN Anthem’ organized by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. I will begin by conveying my appreciation and best wishes to winners of the Poshan Anthem contest for writing such a beautiful song with a strong message.

I am sure that the anthem will play a key role in spreading the message of the Poshan Abhiyan (National Nutrition Mission.)

I am happy that the government has employed an innovative method to spread the message on the importance of Nutrition among all citizens.

As we all are aware, POSHAN (The Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition) has been initiated by the Government of India to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.

I am happy to know that more than 12.2 Crore women, 6.2 Crore men and over 13 Crore children (male and female) were reached through the various activities undertaken during POSHAN Maah in September 2018 and that around 30.6 Crore people were reached in those 30 days alone.

With the major impetus given by activities during POSHAN Maah, we must ensure that the momentum is not lost and we achieve the target of malnutrition free India by 2022.

It is a matter of concern that 34.7 percent of children below the age of five years are stunted in India, according to the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) (2016-18). However there is some improvement, as the survey showed that the prevalence of stunting has reduced from 38.4% as per NFHS-4 to 34.7% and wasting has gone down from 21.0% to 17 %. The Moderate Acute Malnutrition and Severe Acute Malnutrition amongst children still remain critical concerns.

Malnutrition is a multifaceted problem and it requires multifaceted solutions. It is imperative that we join hands and synergize our efforts as we enter the second year of implementation of POSHAN Abhiyaan.

Dear brother and sisters,

As you all are aware, India has been making consistent efforts to ensure that our children grow up in a safe, caring and loving environment.

It is heartening to note that the under-5 mortality rate has fallen significantly from the 1990 level of 117 per 1000 live births to 39 in 2016.

With POSHAN Abhiyan laying special emphasis to provide adequate nutrition to our children, we will soon be able to address the nutrition issues.

Good health is the absolute precondition to a fulfilling life. I am happy that the government has taken the initiative to address this concern through the POSHAN Abhiyan.

As you all are aware, children are the future and their health is a prerequisite for the development and prosperity of the nation. It is the responsibility of all to ensure that our children get the best childhood possible.

I urge upon the governments at States and the Centre and members of Parliament and State Legislatures to keep the welfare of the children of their constituencies as an overriding priority in your development efforts.

As our country aspires to fulfill its economic and social development goals, malnutrition is a key domain that requires greater attention.

There is an urgent need to establish coordination among various agencies, departments of both central and state governments to ensure the best implementation of POSHAN Abhiyaan. Ensuring better service delivery, making better use of technology (ICT) for real-time growth monitoring and tracking of women and children, promoting well-being at all ages and ensuring that every child receives a nutrition-filled, healthy childhood is the responsibility of all and is extremely essential to sustainable development. Intensified health and nutrition services for the first 1000 days are crucial as they offer a unique window of opportunity to shape a healthier and more prosperous future for children.

People’s participation is essential to ensure holistic development and adequate nutrition for pregnant women, mothers, and children.

There is an urgent need to bring in positive change in society towards aspects such as diet, right age of marriage, hygiene and sanitation, eating healthy – food fortification and changing lifestyle habits.

There is a need to invest in training and capacity building of Anganwadi workers. The success of POSHAN Abhiyaan is dependent on the collective efforts of all including optimum utilization of Anganwadi Services.

There is an urgent need to strengthen Anganwadi Services to focus on 4 Ds– using DATA, strengthening DELIVERY of services, timely and strategic DECISION making at the level of competent authorities, generate DEMAND for nutrition services.

Adolescent girls act as the second window of opportunity in the case of addressing malnutrition, while the first 1000 days of life being the first window. Preventing early marriage of girls, addressing girl-dropout from schools, delaying first pregnancy and adequate spacing between births would greatly contribute to better nutrition.

It is also equally important to address micronutrient malnutrition in the country through supplementation, food fortification, and bio-fortification. Dietary diversification needs to be promoted with increased consumption of green leafy vegetables, fruits, lentils, and other protein-rich food items. Immunization is essential to prevent children from falling prey to various dangerous diseases.

I am glad that the government has launched “Mission Indradhanush” to vastly improve immunization coverage.  By continuing our efforts to ensure safe motherhood through schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Matritva Suraksha Abhiyaan and Ayushman Bharat, we also need to focus on ensuring good quality, easily accessible and affordable maternal healthcare services for all women.

I also take this opportunity to compliment field level functionaries- Anganwadi Workers, Anganwadi Helpers, Lady Supervisors, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANMs) for being nutrition-warriors and change agents.

Ministry of Women and Child Development remains dedicated to promoting the welfare of women and children. Under the leadership of Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, I am confident that the Ministry will be able to usher a nutrition revolution in the country. The POSHAN Anthem will help to build and intensify a common cause to sustain the campaign against malnutrition.

On this momentous occasion, we must commit ourselves with renewed determination to meet the goals of POSHAN Abhiyaan. I dedicate this POSHAN Anthem to the nation and urge all citizens to work proactively towards eradicating malnutrition.

Thank you. 

Jai Hind!”

December 3, 2019

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