Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh said that it is our collective responsibility to eradicate malnutrition in children. Malnutrition is a threat more critical than the problem of naxalism. To fight this threat, it is necessary to create awareness amongst the women in rural areas. Chief Minister was addressing the daylong seminar on 'Nutrition' organized by State Planning Commission in association with UNICEF, at new circuit house today. In the seminar, Food and Civil Supply Minister Mr. Punnulal Mohile, Public Health and Family Welfare Minister Mr. Ajay Chandrakar, Women and Child Development Minister Mrs. Ramsheela Sahu were present. UNICEF Ambassador in India Mr. Louis George Arsenol also attended the programme as special guest of the occasion.
As Chief Guest of the programme, Dr Singh said that in our country, the old yet evil tradition of women consuming leftover food still exists in our state. We need to get rid of this inappropriate tradition, because this causes malnutrition in children right from the foetal stage. If a woman doesn’t consume nutritious food during pregnancy, her child is born with low immunity and is also prone to malnutrition and dwarfism. He said that pregnant and lactating women are provided nutritious meals at Aanganbadi centres regularly. Most of the times it is found that the nutritious meal provided for the pregnant or lactating mother, is consumed by her entire family. However, women in states have now become more aware in this regard. They know it very well that an infant should be breastfed within one hour of birth. Women nowadays stay alert towards the weight, health and hygiene of their children. He said that State Government is distributing food grains and iodized salt to nearly 60 lakh families of state. People of rural areas themselves cultivate vegetables and fruits. In this way, nutritious food for women in each of the families can be arranged if desired.
Chief Minister said that health awareness campaigns are organized in state from time to time. Gram Panchayats that have done significantly well in bringing down malnutrition rate are awarded. Besides, I am also willing to write a letter to Honourable Prime Minister, requesting that such gram panchayats should be awarded at national-level as well. He said that to overcome all the challenges in the way of malnutrition eradication, we would have to essentially understand the scientific perspective. He added that Chhattisgarh has three different kinds of geographical conditions. This state can be divided into Bastar, Sarguja and plane area. We would have to chalk out separate action plans for all three regions on priority basis. State Government intends to eliminate this problem with public participation. Hence, it is necessary to create massive awareness in this regard. He said that radio and wall paintings will prove to be effective and beneficial in educating people on the topic of malnutrition. It would be even better if people are provided information in their local dialect. Chief Minister said that this seminar is an important event. The conclusions drawn from the discussions that have taken place in the seminar and also the suggestions received here will be included with priority in the action plan to be chalked out.
Deputy President of State Planning Commission Mr. Sunil Kumar said that along with other resources, we need competent leadership and strong will power to solve the problem of malnutrition. He added that under the competent leadership of Dr Raman Singh, Chhattisgarh has undergone significant declines in the rate of malnutrition. He emphasized inclusion of malnutrition eradication in policy-making procedure with priority and gram panchayats should also be involved for its field level implementation. An extensive movement should be launched to overcome this challenge of malnutrition. UNICEF Ambassador in India Mr Louis George Arsenol said that children should be provided enough quantity of quality nutritious food on time and they should also be provided healthy and hygienic environment. He appreciated the measures taken in Chhattisgarh, under the leadership of Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh, to bring down the rate of malnutrition. He also upheld that nutritious meal should be included as top-priority in policy-making and all the departments concerned should make collective efforts in this direction. Women and Child Development Department Secretary gave information about the schemes being implemented in state for eradicating malnutrition.
After inauguration of the seminar, Director of Tata Social Science Organization Prof S Parshuraman presided over the first technical session. In this session, UNICEF's Nutritious Meal Expert in India Mrs. G Hyun threw light on the global scenario of malnutrition, Ms Suprabha Agrawal of Maharashtra Nutritious Meal Mission talked about her experience in Maharashtra state, Retired IAS Officer and Advisor to UNICEF Dr NC Saxena gave information about nutrition budget procedure in the country, and Ex-Secretary of Government of India Dr Satish Agnihotri gave presentation on the subject 'Malnutrition Eradication- Lagaan Approach'. In the second technical session, experts in respective areas talked about the topics such as programmes concerning malnutrition eradication, community-based reach in terms of malnutrition, Kerala Attapadi Tils, works done in a tribal area of Palakkad district, community management of severe malnutrition in Nanduvar district, nutritious meals, etc. In the seminar, Secretary of Chhattisgarh State Planning Commission Mr. Debashish Das and Member of State Planning Commission Mr. PP Soti were also present.