NITI Aayog’s renewed focus on nutrition, launches ‘National Nutrition Strategy’

Formulated through an extensive consultative process, the Strategy lays down a roadmap for effective action, among both implementers and practitioners, in achieving our nutrition objectives

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The Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog, Dr Rajiv Kumar, the CEO, NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant and the Chairman of M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, Prof M.S. Swaminathan at the launch of the National Nutrition Strategy, in New Delhi on September 05, 2017.

New Delhi: Leader of the Green Revolution in India and eminent agriculture scientist, Dr M S Swaminathan along with Padma Shri Dr H Sudarshan, recently launched the National Nutrition Strategy devised by the NITI Aayog. It was released at a briefing held on 5th September where the Chief Executive Officer of Aayog, Mr Amitabh Kant, its Vice Chairman, Dr Rajiv Kumar and Member, Dr Vinod Paul were present on the occasion.

With a benefit to cost ratio of 16:1 for 40 low and middle-income countries, there is a well-recognized rationale, globally, for investing in nutrition. The recently published NFHS-4 results reflect some progress, with a decline in the overall levels of under nutrition in both women and children. However, the pace of decline is far below what numerous countries with similar growth trajectories to India have achieved. Moreover, India pays an income penalty of 9 percent to 10 percent due to a workforce that was stunted during their childhood.

To address current issues and to bring nutrition to the center-stage of the National Development Agenda, NITI Aayog has drafted the National Nutrition Strategy. Formulated through an extensive consultative process, the Strategy lays down a roadmap for effective action, among both implementers and practitioners, in achieving our nutrition objectives.

The nutrition strategy envisages a framework wherein the four proximate determinants of nutrition – uptake of health services, food, drinking water and sanitation and income and livelihoods – work together to accelerate the decline of under nutrition in India. Currently, there is also a lack of real time measurement of these determinants, which reduces our capacity for targeted action among the most vulnerable mothers and children.

Supply side challenges often overshadow the need to address behavioral change efforts to generate demand for nutrition services. This strategy, therefore, gives prominence to demand and community mobilization as a key determinant to address India’s nutritional needs.

The Nutrition Strategy framework envisages a Kuposhan Mukt Bharat – linked to Swachh Bharat and Swasth Bharat. The aim is to ensure that States create customized State/ District Action Plans to address local needs and challenges. This is especially relevant in view of enhanced resources available with the States, to prioritize focussed interventions with a greater role for panchayats and urban local bodies.

The strategy enables states to make strategic choices, through decentralized planning and local innovation, with accountability for nutrition outcomes.

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