By - Smt. Anita Patnaik, Freelance Writer
Empowerment of adolescent girls is one of the top most priorities of the Government. The Cabinet approval for the expansion of the Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) is another move in this direction. The scheme is being implemented through Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) projects and Anganwadi Centers in 200 select districts across the country for empowering adolescent girls in the age group of 11 to 18. The Cabinet approval followed the recommendation of a Group of Ministers (GoM) aiming at enhancing their nutritional and economic status. Under the scheme, adolescent girls will be provided Take Home Ration. There is also a provision in the scheme that if any state insists on providing hot cooked meal, standards should be set for the same. In addition, the Women and Child Development Ministry will explore feasibility for implementing Conditional Cash Transfer scheme as an alternative of adolescent girls in 100 more districts. Around 92 lakh to 1.15 crore adolescent girls of 11 to 18 years per annum are expected to be covered under the scheme during the Eleventh Plan.
50:50 per cent sharing between the Centre and the States of nutrition provision (600 calories and 18 to 29 gram of protein) at the rate of Rs.5 per beneficiary per day for 300 days a year for 11 to 14 years out of school girls and all girls in the age of 15 to 18 years. A provision of Rs.3.8 lakh per ICDS project per annum has been made for various components of the scheme like training kit at each Angawadi center, National Health Education, Life Skill Education, purchase of Iron Folic Acid Tablet for mothers. Continuation of Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY) in remaining districts from funds of SABLA and utilization of savings available under KSY and RGSEAG-SABLA in 200 districts are the other salient features of the Scheme.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has formulated the SABLA scheme to address multi-dimensional problems of adolescent girls between 11 to 18 years. An allocation of Rs.1,000 crore for the scheme in 2010-11. The Government has approved a cumulative 7075 ICDS projects and 14 lakh Anganwadi Centres across the country. Of these, a total of 7012 projects and 13.67 lakh AWCs have been sanctioned as on 31st of May 2010. Out of the approved ICDS, 6560 are operational. Keeping in view the expansion under the Scheme, the allocation for ICDS was enhanced from the Budget Estimates of Rs. 6,705 crore to Rs. 8162 crore for the year 2009-10. For the year 2010-11, an allocation of Rs. 8700 crore has been made, which is higher than the allocation of the previous year.
Survey On Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the key issue. The National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB) has carried out sample surveys on diet and nutritional status of rural (2005-06) and tribal population (2007-09) in 9 states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal. As per the report of 2001-03 by the Registrar General of India on causes of deaths among 0 to 4 years due to nutritional deficiencies is 2.8 per cent. As per the National Family Health Survey, the underweight children below three years of age has declined from 42.7 per cent in 1988-99 to 40.4 per cent in 2005-06. However, there has been an increase in the anemia levels as anemia in children (6 months to 35 months) has risen from 74.3 per cent to 78.9 per cent. Similarly in women aged 15 to 49 years, the anemia has increased from 51.8 per cent to 56.2 per cent. Though malnutrition is not a major cause of infant death, it can increase morbidity and mortality by reducing resistance to infections. As per the Sample Registration System (SRS), Registrar General of India, the infant Mortality Rate has declined from 57 per thousand live births in 2006 to 53 per thousand live births in the year 2008.
A number of measures has been taken by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare like Supply of Vitamin-A supplementation for children till the age of 5 years, Iron Folic Acid supplementation for children up to 10 years, pregnant and lactating women, promotion of iodized salt, zinc supplementation for treatment of diarrhea in children above two months.
The problem of malnutrition is a multi-faceted and multi-sectoral in nature requiring coordination and convergence between the different sectors and at all levels. The Government, which has been according high priority to the overall issue of malnutrition and particularly in respect of children, adolescent girls and women is implementing several schemes, which have an impact on the nutritional status of the people. These schemes besides ICDS projects include, Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY) and Nutritional Programme for Adolescent Girls (NPAG), National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDM), Drinking Water and Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC), Swarjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) and Public Distribution System (PDS). The ICDS scheme provides a package of six services – supplementary nutrition, pre-school non-formal education, nutrition and health education, immunization, health check-up and referral services. Three of the services (immunization, health check up and referral services) are delivered through the public health system of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The Government has taken various steps, which include universalisation of the scheme with special focus on SC/ST and minority habitations, revision in cost norms as well as the Nutritional and Feeding norms of the Supplementary Nutrition component of ICDS. The Centre has adopted the standards proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 15th of August 2008 to identify malnutrition in children. The National Nutrition Policy of 1993 and the National Nutrition Action Plan of 1995 envisage establishment of State Nutrition Councils in the states. This has been emphasized during the meetings held with the States. Recently, the Chief Secretaries of all states have been addressed to ensure that the State Nutrition Action Plans factor in the availability of services provided at AWCs under the ICDS and also ensure that expansion is undertaken in a manner that it meets inter-alia the nutritional and health demands of the beneficiaries particularly the marginalized sections in areas having high incidence of poverty and deprivation. The Women & Child Development Ministry has considered a Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme for Maternity Benefits called Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) on a pilot basis to provide cash transfers to pregnant and lactating women in response to fulfilling specific conditions. The objective of the scheme is to improve the health and nutrition status of pregnant and lactating women. A budget allocation of Rs.390 crore has been made for the scheme during the current financial year. (PIB Features)