Karnataka’s Anganwadi Women to Have ‘Matru Purna Scheme’

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Come October 2017, pregnant and lactating poor women in rural areas will get one nutritious meal every day. The Department of Women and Child Welfare, Government of Karnataka, is set to launch “Mathru Purna”, a scheme meant to meet the nutritional needs of pregnant and lactating women in rural areas, writes T Radhakrishna of Elets News Network (ENN).

The scheme will provide them with meals that will include rice, dal or sambar, green vegetables, pulses, egg and groundnut-jaggery chikki. Those who don’t eat eggs will be given two kinds of sprouts.

“We have planned the meal on the basis of the nutrition index. The idea is to improve maternal health that will have a direct impact on the child’s nutrition. This will help curb child malnutrition, the single biggest contributor to under-five mortality,” said Deepa M Cholan, Director, Department of Women and Child Welfare, Government of Karnataka.

The scheme will be implemented through anganwadis in the State. Each meal is estimated to cost Rs 21. The food will be provided for 15 months, from the start of pregnancy up to six months after delivery.

About the Scheme

Under Mathru Pushtivardhini Scheme, the State had provided micro nutrients to pregnant and lactating women in backward taluks at a cost of Rs 42 crore under National Health Mission (NHM) during 2016-17 financial year.

During 2017-18 budget, the State government extended the scheme of Matru Poorna Scheme to all 30 districts and allocated a budget of Rs 302 crore effective July 2017. Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had announced the scheme during the Independence Day speech in 2016, the scheme is being taken up in the State.

“The free meals will take into consideration each beneficiary’s food preference. Local anganwadis will have the freedom to alter the diet in case the stipulated items aren’t easily available in the region,” the director said.

Preparations are in full swing to implement the scheme on October 2, 2017 at all anganwadi centres in the State. The State Government has provided grants for procuring utensils and gas cylinder for cooking food at anganwadis.

Integrated Child Development

Anganwadi is a type of rural mother and child care centre in India. They were started by the Indian Government in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services Programme to combat child hunger and malnutrition.

A typical Anganwadi centre provides basic healthcare in Indian villages. It is a part of the Indian public health care system.

Basic health care activities include contraceptive counseling and supply, nutrition education and supplementation, as well as preschool activities. The centres may be used as depots for oral rehydration salts, basic medicines and contraceptives.

According to available information, as many as 13.3 lakh Anganwadi and mini-Anganwadi centres (AWCs/ mini-AWCs) are operational out of 13.7 lakh sanctioned AWCs/ mini-AWCs, as of January 31, 2013. These centres provide supplementary nutrition, non-formal preschool education, nutrition and health education, immunisation, health check-up and referral services of which later three services are provided in convergence with public health systems.

The basic job of Anganwadi workers is extremely important and needs to be carried out in the most efficient manner possible. They need to provide care for newborn babies and ensure that all children below the age of six are immunised.

They are expected to provide antenatal care for pregnant women and ensuring that they are immunised against Tetanus. In addition to this, they provide postnatal care to nursing mothers.

Since they primarily focus on poor and malnourished groups, they provide supplementary nutrition to children below the age of six and nursing and pregnant women. They ensure that regular health and medical check-ups for women 15-49 years old take place and that all women and children have access to these check-ups. They work toward providing preschool education to children who are between three and five years old.

The scheme will be implemented through anganwadis in the State. Each meal is estimated to cost Rs 21. The food will be provided for 15 months, from the start of pregnancy up to six months after delivery.

Scheme Outlook

The Anganwadi workers who implement this scheme would be given an addwitional honorarium of Rs 500 and the assistants would be given Rs 250 and in mini Anganwadi centres.

Dr Lokesh, District Commissioner and District Magistrate, Shimoga District, says, “Under the scheme, Rs 21 would be spent for each beneficiary. Tender would be called for purchasing utensils at the taluka level. Currently, as many as 25,319 beneficiaries including 12,403 pregnant women have been identified in the district for this scheme.”

If the pregnant women are suffering from weakness, the scheme would help improve the health of both mothers and children. The nutritious food would provide more than 40% nutrition including protein and calcium that a pregnant woman requires per day. Compared to South Indian States, the health index of mothers and children of the State is poor. If the scheme is implemented effectively, state of mothers and children could be improved considerably, said Dr Lokesh.

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