Action Against Hunger plea to revise budget allocation for child health, nutrition
Action Against Hunger Plea to Revise Budget Allocation For Child Health, Nutrition. Serious concerns are being raised by civil society organizations about the drastic cuts in the 2015-16 Union Budget outlay for a number of critical programmes such as Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme and National Nutrition Mission.
New Delhi: Serious concerns are being raised by civil society organizations about the drastic cuts in the 2015-16 Union Budget outlay for a number of critical programmes such as Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme and National Nutrition Mission.
The allocation for ICDS Scheme has been reduced from Rs 18,195 crore in 2014-15 budget estimates to Rs 8,335.8 crore in 2015-16 budget estimates. In terms of overall budget, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has witnessed the sharpest cut of 51 per cent from the last budget. Such drastic cut in the Union Budget support for such important government interventions for children would imply that the children of the country would be exposed to far greater degrees of vulnerability.
The Union Government's expectation that State Governments would re-evaluate their budget significantly and compensate for the 45% devolution from the Centre’s budget allocation for these programmes seems unlikely at this stage because the states are being given more autonomy in their spending but their overall basket of funds has not been increased considerably. The civil societies working for child nutrition worry that with the states battling between their respective priorities, child under nutrition can easily slip down in the rank.
Although, States like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh have announced funds towards improving child nutrition and are working towards State Nutrition Missions, what remains to be seen is whether the remaining states will follow suit.
The big question for organizations like ACF, Fight Hunger Foundation in this entire tussle for re-prioritizing the budget is – what will reach the over 8 million children affected by severe acute malnutrition, to address their needs.
Dr. Rajiv Tandon, Deputy Country Head, ACF India says, “Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) is a ‘Medical Emergency’ in India and the attention that children suffering from SAM are getting from the authorities is far from satisfactory. Currently there are less than 10,000 beds in Nutrition Treatment Centers (NRCs) all over the country for children suffering from SAM. Apart from the lack of infrastructure there is no clear system to detect and monitor the deaths occurring from malnutrition, as these deaths usually get placed under diarrheal or pneumonic diseases. There are many solutions like Mid Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) which if implemented can resolve the issue, but reduced funds makes it seem a far cry from reality. The lack of trained personnel and reduced incentives to the existing ASHAs and Aanganwadi
workers to take up this issue and work towards rectifying it is also a major obstacle in combating SAM.”
“Urgent measures need to be taken to screen, detect, refer, treat and follow up children with severe acute malnutrition as they lie on the threshold between life and death. Community based management of acute malnutrition is the need of the hour to ensure their lives are saved and this requires the Government’s help by way of specific budgetary provision for this intervention. Without access to adequate food, balanced nutrition, clean toilets and safe water, we cannot prevent children from becoming acutely malnourished,” added Dr. Tandon “Considering this scenario, it becomes crucial for organizations like ACF India (Action Against Hunger) to call-out to the Central Government to take notice of these alarming indicators and the unmet need.
ACF is appealing to the highest authorities in India to re-look the budget for children and to give SAM the priority it deserves,” says Dr. Tandon
ACF-India (Action Contre La Faim-Action Against Hunger) is a humanitarian organization committed to ending world hunger and recognized as a leader in the fight against malnutrition.
Please visit - http://www.actionagainsthunger.org/countries/asia/india