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Poshan Tracker: Rs. 1000 Crores spent

Context:

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has spent over Rs. 1,000 crores on its Poshan or Nutrition Tracker, which records real-time data on malnourished and ‘severe acute malnourished’ children in each anganwadi. But four years since its launch, the Government is yet to make the data public.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Government Policies and Initiatives, Welfare Schemes, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of the policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Poshan Abhiyaan
  2. Issues of Poshan Abhiyaan
  3. New guidelines of POSHAN 2.0
  4. What is the Poshan Tracker app?
  5. About the implementation of Poshan tracker app

 

About Poshan Abhiyaan

  • The term ‘POSHAN’ in the name of the programme stands for ‘Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition’.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan launched in 2018 aims at improving the nutritional status of Children from 0-6 years, Adolescent Girls, Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers.
  • According to ‘Mission 25 by 2020’, the National Nutrition Mission aims to achieve a reduction in stunting from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan focuses on convergence among partner Ministries leveraging technology and Jan Andolan among other things, to address issue of malnutrition comprehensively.
  • Near-real time reporting by field functionaries and improved MIS is aimed at smooth implementation of scheme and better service delivery.
  • It also targets stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and low birth rate.
  • It will monitor and review implementation of all such schemes and utilize existing structural arrangements of line ministries wherever available.
  • Its large component involves gradual scaling-up of interventions supported by on-going World Bank assisted Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP) to all districts in the country by 2022.
  • Its vision is to ensure attainment of malnutrition free India by 2022.
  • Implementation of POSHAN Abhiyaan is based on the four-point strategy/pillars of the mission:
    1. Inter-sectoral convergence for better service delivery
    2. Use of technology (ICT) for real time growth monitoring and tracking of women and children
    3. Intensified health and nutrition services for the first 1000 days
    4. Jan Andolan

Issues of Poshan Abhiyaan

  • Information and communications technology-enabled real time monitoring (ICT-RTM) has been rolled out in POSHAN Abhiyaan districts.
  • This could be ineffective due to the limited capacities of Anganwadi workers (AWs) to handle smartphones owing to their lack of technological literacy.
  • Technical issues like slow servers and data deletion problems, resulting in irregular and improper recording of growth data of children.
  • AWs are the fulcrum of POSHAN Abhiyaan and render vital services to mothers and children in villages.
  • Nearly 40% of AWs had to use their personal money to run the AWCs, 35% of them complained of delayed payments. This makes AWs demotivated and demoralized.

New guidelines of POSHAN 2.0

  • POSHAN scheme focuses on the 1,000 days between a mother’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday.
  • Prioritizing women and girls, and addressing their nutritional deficiencies through fortification and provision of take-home rations.
  • The introduction of community-based programmes for tackling severe acute malnutrition.
  • The guidelines now place accountability at the district level with nutrition indicators included in the KPIs (key performance indicators) of DN/DC.

What is the Poshan Tracker app?

  • Developed by MoWCD, the Poshan Tracker app enables real-time monitoring and tracking of all Anganwadi Centre (AWC), Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) and beneficiaries.
  • This government app provides a 360-degree view of the activities of AWC, AWWs and complete beneficiary management for pregnant women, lactating mothers, children, adolescent girls and adolescent boys.
  • It will provide a holistic view of distribution and access of nutrition services by Anganwadi centres and AWWs (Anganwadi workers) to eligible groups.
  • The software will ensure real-time updates, enhance transparency and enabling the system to identify last-mile beneficiaries.
  • The tracker carries a module that enables AWWs to identify and provide support to orphaned children [due Covid-19].

About the implementation of Poshan tracker app

  • The Government has spent ₹1,053 crore on the Poshan Tracker or Information Communication Technology-Real Time Monitoring as of March 2021 according to the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • Yet, in response to a question on the number of malnourished children the Minister for Women and Child Development relied on data from the recently released National Family Health Survey-5, which shows improvement in stunting, wasting and under-weight children.
  • This real-time monitoring system is one of the key pillars of Poshan Abhiyan or Nutrition Mission approved by the Union Cabinet in November 2017 with a financial outlay of ₹9,000 crore for three years.
  • Yet this important data is not available in the public domain, unlike the MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act) data or the Health Management Information System (HMIS) of the Ministry of Health for monitoring of the National Health Mission and other health-related programmes.
  • Government officials have cited privacy concerns as a reason for keeping the data under lock and key but experts say it can easily be anonymised as is the case with data for several other government schemes.

-Source: The Hindu

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