Role of health systems in improving childhood nutrition in India

Role of health systems in improving childhood nutrition in India

The status of child undernutrition in India continues as an area of concern. Persistent high levels of undernutrition among women and children and its sluggish decline reflects the dichotomy in India’s growth story. The complexity of proximate  and distal determinants of malnutrition calls for convergent actions in poverty reduction, agriculture, health services, education and women’s empowerment.

This paper focuses on the role of health systems in improving child nutrition and also acknowledges that need to adequately address key determinants, improve governance and enhance civil society action for accountability in order to make progress towards improving child nutrition.

The paper acknowledges the contribution of several to improve maternal and child undernutrition has been successful, much remains to be achieved. Civil societies like the Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and their programmes like Village Health and Nutrition Day (VHND), Village Health and Sanitation Committee (VHSC) and others state level interventions need to be steeped up to meet the demands for improving child nutrition.

The paper concludes with the following recommendations:

  • Promoting Behavioural Change Interventions (BCI);
  • Enhancing the role of the VHSC to address specific nutrition-related functions;
  • Expanding the scope of the VHND;
  • Institutionalised screening for iron deficiency anaemia;
  • Strengthening growth monitoring and promotion;
  • Prevention and management of illness and SAM;
  • Human resources for improving childhood nutrition; and
  • Strengthening regular monitoring and supervision.
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