Vitamin A supplementation programmes are missing children from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. New evidence from India

Vitamin A supplementation programmes are missing children from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. New evidence from India

Surveys have indicated that 62 % of preschool-age Indian children suffer from sub-clinical vitamin A deficiency (VAD), with a threefold higher prevalence of severe forms of VAD among children from schedule castes (SC) or schedule tribes (ST).

The objective of this analysis is to assess whether India’s national vitamin A supplementation (VAS) programme is reaching the districts with higher concentration of SC/ST children in the seven states with the largest burden of under-five mortality (74 % of India’s under-five deaths).

The article concludes that Indian states have achieved significant progress in expanding the coverage of the VAS programme. However, a large proportion of children are not benefitting from this child survival intervention, particularly among SC/ST children. These children are potentially among the most vulnerable to VAD and its consequences. India’s national VAS programme needs to be strengthened in sub-district-level units (i.e. blocks and villages) with higher concentrations of SC/ST children, with particular emphasis on SC children.