Coordination between political leadership and administration for a malnutrition free Odisha

Published: February 7, 2020 4:58:46 PM

According to National Family Health Survey-4, Odisha’s under-five mortality rate almost halved as compared to NFHS-3.

Additionally, there is will among the political leadership at all levels to strive towards a malnutrition-free Odisha. (Reuters image/ File)Additionally, there is will among the political leadership at all levels to strive towards a malnutrition-free Odisha. (Reuters image/ File)

By Mahesh Sahoo

Odisha has been working exceptionally hard to improve the delivery of its social sector schemes and the implementation of its 5T (Teamwork, Technology, Transparency, Transformation and Time) approach in various sectors. This technique has worked in its favour and it is slowly emerging as a leader in sectors including nutrition.

It has improved drastically over the years and has set an example for the rest of the Indian states to follow. According to National Family Health Survey-4, Odisha’s under-five mortality rate almost halved as compared to NFHS-3. There has been a steep decline in stunting in children under five according to NFHS-4 too. Indicators like anemia in children and pregnant women, antenatal care and institutional deliveries have shown drastic improvement as compared to the country’s average improvement. Having said that, there is scope for the state to do more and be at par with best performers in the country when it comes to nutrition.

The Chief Minister of Odisha, Shri Naveen Patnaik has proven his commitment to improving the nutritional standards of women and children, and schemes like Mission Shakti, which empower self-help groups, are an example of his commitment. Additionally, there is will among the political leadership at all levels to strive towards a malnutrition-free Odisha.

There have been unique initiatives at various districts, including Angul and Dhenkanal, which is my Lok Sabha seat. The district administration at Angul has not only achieved great results by focusing on reaching out to remote areas and particularly vulnerable tribal groups, but has inspired the administration in Dhenkanal to replicate their model.

Coordination and cooperation between political representatives like Members of Parliament (MPs), Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), the district administration, frontline workers like Anganwadi workers (AWWs) and demand from the community have ensured that the beneficiaries of the ICDS are not only getting their correct entitlements but are also receiving them on time.

Another demand from the community for AWCs or mini AWCs to resolve the problem of access resulted in applications being filed for establishment of AWCs. These were filed by Sarpanch, who took the lead on this issue at the village level. The issue was then escalated by elected representatives of concerned constituencies and an order has been passed by the District Collector of Angul to establish 150 Anganwadi Centres from the District Mineral Fund.

Lessons from Angul also show that establishing a people’s movement or jan andolan and mobilizing not just the community but also the district administration, MLAs, MPs, frontline workers, and local leaders like Sarpanch can have a positive impact and drastically improve the nutrition levels of the community at large and the women and children specifically. This should inspire more elected representatives,especially MLAs and MPs to champion the cause of nutrition in their own constituencies.

The author is Member of Parliament, Dhenkanal, Odisha

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