Malnutrition & ICDS
Understanding the problem and its solution
What is Malnutrition
Malnutrition is a condition that results from not having a balanced diet. This can be due to under-nutrition or over-nutrition.
What causes Malnutrition?
Individuals become vulnerable to malnutrition if their diet doesn’t provide them with sufficient calories, vitamins, minerals and micro nutrients.
How does Malnutrition affect people?
According to the World Food Programme: “A malnourished person finds that their body has difficulty doing normal things such as growing and resisting disease. Physical work becomes problematic and even learning abilities can be diminished. For women, pregnancy becomes risky and they cannot be sure of producing nourishing breast milk.
Malnutrition at an early age leads to reduced physical and mental development during childhood. Stunting, for example, affects more than 147 million pre-schoolers in developing countries, according to SCN's World Nutrition Situation 5th report. Iodine deficiency, the same report shows, is the world's greatest single cause of mental retardation and brain damage.
Undernutrition affects school performance and studies have shown it often leads to a lower income as an adult. It also causes women to give birth to low birth-weight babies.”
What is the ‘Window of Opportunity’ in the context of battling Malnutrition?
The first two years in the life make up the ‘window of opportunity’. Irreversible damages caused by childhood undernutrition can be avoided if sufficient nutritious food is provided for the first two years of life at least.
What is ICDS?
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is India’s primary social welfare scheme sponsored by the Government of India to tackle malnutrition. The main beneficiaries of the programme are children below 6 years of age, pregnant women and lactating mothers and adolescent girls.
ICDS was first launched in 1975 to improve the nutritional and health status of vulnerable groups belonging to the disadvantaged sections in the society. Today it reaches out to over 8 million expectant and nursing mothers and almost 40 million children under 6 years of age.