For the second year in a row, the > Modi government has reduced fund available to child health interventions , with a massive cut — from Rs. 15,483.77 crore last year to Rs. 14,000 crore in the latest budget.
The National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4 data for 15 States shows that 37 per cent of children under the age of five are stunted; 22 per cent are wasted while 34 per cent under the age of 5 are under weight.
The Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) has seen a 7 per cent reduction in fund. The scheme, implemented by the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry, is the country’s flagship intervention to improve child nutrition in the country. “This is the largest programme in the world for children and the ICDS is fundamental to marginalised children in India,” said Thomas Chandy, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children.
That’s not all — > the percentage share of the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) scheme in the total Union Budget allocation has gone down from 0.74 per cent in 2014-15 (BE) to 0.49 per cent in 2016-17 (BE). The allocation for the MDM scheme for 2016-17 stands at Rs. 9,700 crore (2016-17 BE). The budget comes a week after the Economic Survey states that India needed to increase investments on child nutrition programmes if it were to capitalise on the demographic advantage offered by its young population.
The total amount spend on child health by the government would be Rs. 65,758 crore. Over the last two years, allocations for ICDS has seen a sharp decrease, maintain experts.