The NITI Aayog has asked states to show more “alacrity” in procuring smartphones and growth-measuring devices for anganwadis under the National Nutrition Mission, saying the rate had not been “up to the mark”.
At present, 6.28-lakh smartphones have been procured and 6.37 lakh growth-monitoring devices are available at various anganwadis.
According to the transcript of the meeting of the National Council of Nutritional Challenges accessed by PTI, NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar said five states had still not procured smartphones and 14 states were yet procure even the essential monitoring devices.
“Unless we do this, the anganwadis would not be able to provide us the data that we need, and not only that, they may even not be able to identify severe acute malnourished children,” Kumar said in the meeting held last month.
The smartphones and tablets are being procured under the National Nutrition Mission or ‘Poshan Abhiyan’, a programme launched with the aim to reduce the level of stunting, undernutrition, anemia and low birth weight in children. It aims to achieve reduction in stunting from 38.4 per cent (NFHS-4) to 25 per cent by 2022.
The smartphones and tablets have the ‘Integrated Child Development Services-Common Application’, that are used for drawing nutrition profile of each village.
The meeting was also attended by Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani, WCD secretary Rabindra Panwar, officials of the Union Health Ministry, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Nutrition among others.
Kumar has sought a weekly report from the WCD Ministry over procurement of smartphones and growth-monitoring devices by states.
The NITI Aayog vice-chairman said there was a “huge need” for training and capacity building of anganwadi workers. “This is something we need to take seriously. We need to work in cooperation with the HRD Ministry and local governments in order to develop this capacity at local level,” he said.
Kumar stressed that the quality of data could be built by supplementing technology with capacity building through incremental learning modules. Along with need to procure more monitoring devices.
Kumar underlined the need to bring about behavioural change among mothers, teachers and anganwadi workers for tackling malnutrition at the grassroots level.
“NITI Aayog is now trying to put in place a behavioural policy change unit and would urge the WCD Ministry to work with us and other ministries to make sure that we can bring about the necessary behaviour change among mothers, teachers, anganwadi workers so that the behaviour becomes conducive in achieving the targets that we have,” Kumar said.