Bhubaneswar: Women & Child Development Dept., Govt. of Odisha has signed an MoU with American Indian Foundation to implement Integrated Programme for Children to improve their health, nutrition & early childhood education in Thakurmunda & Gopabandhu Nagar Blocks of Mayurbhanj District.
The MoU was signed today in the august presence of Minister, W& C.D. Smt. Basanti Hembram, Commissioner-cum-Secretary Smt. Subha Sharma at W& C.D. Conference Hall. The signatories were Sri Nityananda Barik, Additional Secretary W & C.D. Department and Mr. Mathew Joseph, Country Director, The American India Foundation Trust.
This Integrated Programme will be undertaken by American Indian Foundation. It will strengthen the ongoing efforts of the Government of Odisha by providing nutritious meals to children in the age group of 6 months to 3 years at Anganwadi centers, strengthening the skills of frontline and health workers for providing quality home-based care to sick children, strengthening the referral linkages for the timely referral of severely malnourished children and ensuring school readiness of under 6 children and train the headmasters/teachers to integrate sessions of mental health as part of school curriculum.
The initiative aims at substantial reduction in the prevalence of wasting and underweight children, also make them school ready so that they can successfully transition to schools. The intervention also aims to ensure that mothers’caregivers provide nutritious food to their children and that children in the age range of 11 to 15 acquire mental health resilience skills to continue their education successfully. This pilot intervention will reach 2.5 lakh community members, 20 thousand children under 6 years of age, 12 thousand adolescents in 388 anganwadi centres across Thakurmunda & Cabandhu Nagar Blocks, Mayurbhanj District.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister, W & CD dept. Smt. Basanti Hembram lauded the initiatives of the Department for improving child nutrition like augmented take home ration (THR) in the Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) Programme, promoting food diversity under Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) for children under 6 years, using the mascot “TikiMausi” to spread messages on nutrition, ‘Kalika’, community-based crèches, PadaPusti Karyakrama etc. W&CD dept. is adding another feather to its cap by piloting the “Integrated Programme for Children-Health, Nutrition & Early Childhood Education” to strengthen the ongoing nutrition interventions in two blocks of Mayurbhanj district in collaboration with the American India Foundation. Providing hot cooked meals to children (6 months to 3Yrs) at AWCs, would have an edge over existing interventions. Strengthening early childhood education and mental health intervention for adolescents are also unique features of this pilot, she said.
This program would improve the nutritional status of malnourished children, encourage pre-school readiness in children, and promote mental health & wellbeing among adolescents, Commissioner-cum-Secretary Smt. Subha Sharma opined.
Collector, Mayurbhanj Sri Vineet Bhardwaj who was present in the vitual mode said that impact of this pilot programme would help in its further scaling up. Mr. Mathew Joseph, Country Director, The American India Foundation Trust elaborated the details of this pilot intervention and Sri Raj Kamal Sharma, leader of this project gave a powerpoint presentaion. Sri Nityananda Barik, Additional Secretary W & C.D. Department gave the vote of thanks.
It’s worth mentioning that COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for vulnerable groups like women, children and adolescents to get access to basic health, nutrition, education and livelihood support over the previous two years. To address the early childhood growth and learning (under 6 years) and mental well-being of adolescents, American India Foundation has designed this “Integrated programme”. The broad goal of this program is to improve health, nutritional status, early childhood education and mental health among children. American India Foundation is committed to improving the lives of India’s underprivileged, with a special focus on women, children, and youth. AIF does this through high-impact interventions in education, health and livelihoods, because poverty is multidimensional. American India Foundation (AIF) has impacted 12.9 million lives across 35 States and Union Territories of India.