November 21, 2016
Bengaluru: In an attempt to improve maternal health, the government of Karnataka has decided to provide midday meals for pregnant and lactating mothers.
Minister of Women and Child Development Umashree made this big announcement on Children’s day, which made many expecting mothers happy. Since a mother’s health has a direct impact on the child’s health, this move will help fight malnutrition amongst infants.
The project will start in four talukas— Madhugiri, Jamakhandi, Manvi and H D Kote on a pilot basis from December 15, with a total of 32,000 women covered under it. After the initial three months, the government will extend it to more talukas. “It is a big step. The timing couldn’t be more right, since the state is also facing drought because of which many families are struggling to make ends meet. A nutritious diet like this will be difficult for them to get,” says Dr Arun Kumar, working in Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka.
This will see expecting mothers coming to the anganwadis for the midday meals, which will include egg and milk. Those who do not consume eggs will be given two glasses of milk. “Midday meals is the best way to provide them the necessary nutrition, since most of them are sceptical of supplements. Everybody would come down to have food; this will be received well by them,”Arun elucidates.
Although the government provides rice, wheat, jaggery and green gram to these women under the Integrated Child Development Services, many women, particularly those from the lower economic backgrounds, do not consume it themselves. “There are many who have benefited, but there are also a large number who haven’t. Ramifications of poverty can be many. And therefore, what a single person must consume, the whole family does. That doesn’t help the cause,” says Priyanka Mukherjee, a social worker who has worked with women and children.
S Varalakshmi, State President of the Anganwadi Noukarara Sangha, applauded the government’s move. “In several parts of the state, very young girls who are malnourished give birth to infants who are also malnourished. This will help them.Most women in India are anaemic, which can lead to several complications during pregnancy, even causing death. This programme is for them,” says Priyanka.
“I am hopeful that this scheme will meet with great success. Implementation is the key. The government needs to look into infrastructure and logistics before launching this programme. The programme has been extended to pregnant and lactating mothers in various states from time to time, hope the government is able to achieve what they set out to,” she concludes.