Coordination needed to eliminate malnutrition

Dear Editor,
Poshan Maah or Nutrition Month is being celebrated all over the country, including Arunachal Pradesh. The government is determined to eliminate malnutrition from the state. However, this is not a problem that can be ended in a month or a year. This is a process the success of which lies on behavioural changes and creating meaningful awareness about malnutrition.
In a state like Arunachal, many people don’t understand what malnutrition is. For them, malnutrition means being skinny and nutrition is synonymous with eating more food.
There is a need to bridge the huge gap of knowledge and information among the people, especially the rural poor. The government is talking about radio jingles, social media, etc, which are great indeed, but these electronic devices based on the internet are hardly feasible for the state. In most of the places, electricity is rare and connectivity in terms of the internet is poor; thereby the effectiveness of the electronic mass media is restricted.
There is a need to reach the people in the nook and corner of the state and create a platform for people-to-people interactions. Already a considerable number of anganwadi workers, ASHAs and field level workers in the medical, agriculture and horticulture departments who work at the grassroots level exist. We should work towards the capacity building of this workforce for better results. They need to be equipped with better equipment and knowledge.
Also, a pool of knowledge in the form of localized small films and clips about the specific problems of the state should be created by involving experts, popular leaders and people. Many a time, promotional videos are inadequate and people fail to connect with them. Therefore, it should be flavoured with local taste.
Also, the Arunachal State Rural Livelihood Mission has been doing a great job towards building an awe-inspiring force of SHGs which, if trained properly, can act as a change agent. Efforts need to be made to make awareness percolate down to the last individual residing in the state.
Malnutrition and under-nutrition are a blot to any aspiring state. It not only affects the individual negatively but also inhibits the growth of the state and the nation.
There is a need to put an anchor on this issue urgently. The results can’t be achieved if proper convergence is not carried out among the various departments and the stakeholders.
Therefore, coordinated and effectively planned action must be taken up, so that the issue of malnutrition can be addressed and eliminated.
Nyatum Doke,
Lower Siang