Samaj Pragati Sahayog

Health & Nutrition

The Health and Nutrition programme is primarily concerned with reforming the current state of health and nutrition in children and pregnant women, and evolving solutions to long-standing health problems such as malnutrition and anemia, in partnership with local communities.

This programme is currently operational in 283 villages of 105 gram panchayats and 3 towns in Dewas district. Regular monitoring of anganwadis in 283 villages has led to improved functioning of ICDS in 197 anganwadis.

Available data indicate pervasive under nutrition among women and children in India. According to the National Family Health Survey-3 data, nearly half the children in the country were undernourished. Full immunization coverage in rural areas is still alarmingly low, at 40%. The proportion of anaemic children under-3 has gone up from 74% to 79%. We also have the highest percentage (87%) of pregnant anaemic women in the world (World Bank, 2007). The area where SPS is working is one of the poorest, remote and drought-prone tribal pockets in Madhya Pradesh, characterized by a high incidence of poverty and malnutrition, low levels of literacy, poor availability of health, education facilities etc. There is an urgent need for carrying reforms to the remote hinterlands of this country, especially to these tribal areas that face a terrible crisis of governance.

A key area of governance reform in India is the schemes related to food-related entitlement schemes such as the Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS), the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and the Public Distribution System (PDS). Our Nutrition and Education programme is working in 154 villages of 75 Gram Panchayats and 3 Nagar Panchayats of Dewas district to generate awareness, greater local participation and build pressure on the government to reform the way these schemes are run and increase the resources allotted to them. The RTF campaign seeks to target three broad areas:

Undernutrition in women and children: Our work in MDMS has led to a marked improvement in quantity and quality of mid-day meals in 186 primary and middle schools. The introduction of voluntary Social Audit of MDMS, done by SPS sponsored SHGs in the area, has been a step towards establishing transparency at the grassroots level. Regular monitoring of 169 anganwadis has led to improved functioning of the ICDS. 123 new ICDS centres were opened due to the pressure on the administration created by the community. We conducted a growth monitoring exercise, covering 28,800 children under 5 years, which helped identify malnourished children. 700 children with Severe Acute Malnutrition were sent to Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres. Revival and activation of pressure groups like the School Management Committees and Maitri Sahayogini Samitis help stakeholders discuss and remedy issues and ensure effective delivery of the Government schemes through greater participation

The PDS System: Public distribution of grain through ration shops has been in existence in India for over 60 years. However the outreach and coverage of PDS is low in states like Madhya Pradesh. Our Nutrition programme attempts to improve the functioning of the ration shops so that the needy poor households can access their entitlements from the PDS. Under the National Food Security Act, the Priority and Antyodaya households are eligible for subsidized ration from the Fair Price Shops on a monthly basis. Government of Madhya Pradesh is engaged in the process of issuing the Priority Slip (for the eligible families) which is a prerequisite for getting subsidised monthly ration. At SPS we have been facilitating this process by helping people make applications to get their priority slips as well as with the distribution of these slips. A survey and screening of nearly 2300 households was conducted for BPL eligibility, resulting in 800 eligible families receiving BPL cards.

Government Pension Schemes like Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS), National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS), Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS), etc. SPS has helped over 200 people benefit from IGNOAPS and over 300 beneficiaries under this scheme open bank accounts.