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Action Against Malnutrition

Campaign by Roman Catholic Diocesan Social Service Society

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Story

In India, Malnutrition is among the leading (68 %) causes of death under the age of five. According to National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4 conducted in 2015-16, 21% of under-5 children suffered from Moderate Acute Malnourishment (MAM) and 7.5% suffered from Severe Acute Malnourishment (SAM).

Children who survive have very limited physical and cognitive capacity later in life, contributing to a low-skilled and less productive adult workforce, higher healthcare expenditures, and delayed economic growth, all of which can perpetuate a cycle of poverty and illness.

In Rajasthan, particularly in rural regions, occurrences of SAM have been on the rise in recent years. The total number of children with SAM cases in the state, according to the census's clinical, anthropometric, and biochemical (CAB) report 2016-17, is 15 to 16 per cent in villages. This means that a total of 17,81,928 children under the age of six are severely malnourished, out of which about 15,01,879 children live in rural areas.

The interruption and suspension of government-supported schemes such as Mid-Day meal at schools, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Public Distribution System (PDS) during the preceding three waves of the pandemic have exacerbated the already dire condition in Ajmer's area of the state. This intergenerational threat must be addressed immediately, but the government's attempts to address it have so far been woefully inadequate in both quality and quantity.

Since the pandemic started in 2020, we have been identifying critically malnourished children living in the Ajmer district's semi-urban and rural areas, and as a result, we have identified 500 children who are aged between 3 to 6. Because the requirements of these children and their families are so substantial, we've devised a strategy to strengthen the nutrition safety net through food distribution program.

Under the program, nutritious food parcels and freshly cooked meals will be delivered to children on a regular basis throughout the year. The menu will be designed and implemented after taking into consideration various factors, including regional palate, taste, and flavors, whereas, the menu diversity will be achieved by using a wide variety of green leafy vegetables, cereals and grain, legumes/nut, roots and tubers.

The program model will be community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) program and it will work towards improvement in the nutritional status among severely malnourished children through growth monitoring and behavior change communication and also by providing medical screening and consultation, appropriate counselling, referral and treatment services. With the support of trained community health workers, targeted nutrition education sessions will also be delivered to families of these children. 

The "Action Against Malnutrition" program's eventual result will be the elimination of childhood malnutrition in the lives of 500 children aged 3 to 6 from Ajmer's most vulnerable neighbourhoods. Their lives will be improved as a result of the initiative and the children will have access to a variety of micronutrient-rich foods right at their doorsteps, which will be the most direct impact. Appropriate diets for children will promote healthy growth and eliminate the health concerns associated with malnutrition. By offering recommendations and lobbying with data and statistics, the project will assist the government in enhancing existing nutrition programmes and initiatives.

Organisers
Roman Catholic Diocesan Social Service Society

Roman Catholic Diocesan Social Service Society

Beneficiary Charity

Fr. Vishal Raymond

Fr. Vishal Raymond

Organiser

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