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Project launched to fight high malnutrition in Odisha's backward Malkangiri district

By Our Representative

Odisha civil rights groups have launched a new project, which will cover 8,000 households under of Podia block in Odisha’s Malkangiri district in order to provide essential preventive medicine to the community through the trained village-based Swasthya Sathis (health workers) and fight malnutrition in the district’s rural areas.
The aim is to “improve nutrition and health status and bridge gaps in access to healthcare among primitive tribes of Odisha's Malkangiri district”, say sources in the non-profit Atmashakti Trust and its ally Shramajeebee Sangathan, which are behind the project.
The effort is to declared “malnutrition free villages” in the Podia block. A similar malnutrition-free village project has been successful in four blocks of Kandhamal district, where it was launched in 2014 helping over 21,000 people of 181 villages.
“Our focus would be awareness building, strengthening local healthcare institutions, disease prevention, bringing behavioural changes among communities, promoting backyard kitchen gardens in project villages and linking them with the nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive government schemes through village health committees and form health-kits in project villages'', says Shanti Beka, Podia block president, Mahila Shramajeebee Sangathan, Malkangiri, who attended a project launching event.
An NGO note claims, over the last few years, the project has been launched to support the Odisha government’s efforts at a time the State has made “stirring jumps in improving health and nutrition indicators”, adding, “Odisha is the first Indian state to have a specific nutrition budget in the country.”
The note says, between National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-3 (2005-06) and NFHS-4 (2015-16), the share of malnourished children under the age group of 5 in the state declined to 34.4% from 40.7%. Yet, it regrets, there exists an intra-district disparity.
“Malnutrition is as high as 51.8% in Malkangiri despite it being feted as an aspirational district, a ranking made by Niti Ayog and UNDP based on the change in net resilience from March 2018 to March 2020. The Annual Health Survey report 2014 also reveals that 7 out of 10 children in Malkangiri are underweight”, it underlines.
"Poor and improper dietary habits, social norms, perceived practices and lack of road infrastructure have been the potential barriers to fight malnutrition. The health infrastructure in the district is also woefully inadequate. Therefore, we started this much-needed intervention which is a cost-effective and community-owned healthcare model with a focus on integrated behaviour change communication”, says Ruchi Kashyap, executive trustee, Atmashakti Trust.

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