Maharashtra Govt. To Provide Nutritional Cooked Meal To Tribal Pregnant Mothers

Posted: November 9, 2015

In a great move for mother and child the Maharastra Govt. will now provide cooked nutritional meal to pregnant and lactating mothers in the tribal areas.

As the saying goes, an expectant mother must feed for two. And, having said that, it’s a shocking revelation, that most of children and women in tribal areas are underweight. Some of it is poverty, some unhealthy eating practices, some blatant superstition. So, the step of introducing the APJ Abdul Kalam Amrut Yojna is welcoming indeed.

According to the scheme, a hot nutritious meal would be provided to pregnant and lactating mothers in the tribal areas. This is certainly an improvement over the ‘Take Home Ration’ scheme that distributed packets of  ‘sheera’ or ‘upma’ to women, which while filling can never be qualified as a well-balanced diet. A well-balanced pregnant women diet should be high in proteins, vitamins and minerals like, potassium, iron, selenium, folic acid, which are important for the growth of child.

Highlights of the scheme:

• Food to be provided for 6 months
• Free hot cooked meal will be considered.
• Food would be provided from Third trimester of pregnancy to three months after the delivery.
• Meal to include rice, pulses, fruits, vegetables and occasionally milk.
• The scheme would be implemented by tribal women, Anganwadi workers, and local meal committees.
• An amount of Rs 10 crore would be spent by Women and Child Welfare Department as stipend to anganwadi workers.
• In every tribal village, a meal committee of four members will be constituted, across 16 districts.
• The committee would be headed by a woman panchayat member, along with two lactating mothers or pregnant ladies and an anganwadi worker.

Although, this scheme is already being implemented in states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, it’s good to see other states following this example. As most of tribal women do not have access to proper health care, it’s important to impress the value of a balanced diet, which is rich in nutrients and gives the mother and child advantages over diseases. Also, as most of women do not get adequate rest after birth of the child and are at risk to fatigue, vaginal injuries and infection, it’s important to build a strong immune system.

However, sanitation is an important concern, as more than one life is at risk if food is not cooked in a clean environment. Another factor is the quality of the food. It’s pretty obvious that poor quality food will do more harm than good. And, while the government is focusing on women and their health, there should be more rural development programs so that poverty and unemployment in general can be eradicated. Better health care would also help.

And, while the government is being appreciated for the step, one is bound to get apprehensive given corrupt politics in the country, and may give rise to doubts if this is a genuine attempt by government to improve rural life or just a political gimmick to attract voters. Still, one cannot deny that this step will be a huge step in improving health conditions in mothers and newborns.

Cover image via Shutterstock

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