The Union Women and Child Development Ministry will map the high-risk and vulnerable districts to strengthen nutrition surveillance. It will also set up a working group for surveillance in health and nutrition at the Central level under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).

This follows a paper prepared by the Women and Child Development and Health and Family Welfare Ministries for addressing nutritional challenges that said malnutrition was not just a child-specific problem but prevalent in every age group.

The Ministry will also make nutrition central to the development agenda and prioritise nutrition component in all flagship programmes by improving human resource development at village level by focusing on the role of accredited social health activists, anganwadi workers, auxiliary midwives and attach doctors on call under the ICDS.

In addition to laying emphasis on nutrition status of children under the age of three years, the Ministry will also launch a joint training initiative with the Health and Family Welfare Ministry under the NRHM and the ICDS to strengthen care of pregnant mothers. The nutritional rehabilitation centres under the NRHM will be strengthened by linking them to child health units and the ICDS will restructure itself to provide greater flexibility to States and districts for implementation.

The objective of the “Strategy to Address India's Nutrition Challenges,” as defined in the 11{+t}{+h} Five-Year Plan monitorable targets, also highlights the need to reduce malnutrition among children (underweight prevalence) in the age group 0-3 years to half its present level by the end of the Plan. It also stresses on reducing anaemia among women and girls by 50 per cent.

The 11th Plan positions the development of children at its centre and recognises nutrition as critical for ensuring child survival and development. It accords high priority to addressing maternal and child security.

The National Plan of Action on Nutrition, 1995 has laid down the framework for systematic collaboration among the national government agencies, the State governments, the non-governmental organisations, the private sector and the international community.

The Plan also recognises that despite the starting of many programmes to tackle malnutrition gaps remain in the ability to deliver the target groups at the grassroots level. There is a need to deliver the benefits of various schemes at the household and community levels, it said.

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