Emphasising on the need to give priority to 'poshan abhiyan', also called national nutrition mission, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar on Wednesday said convergence across various sectors can achieve the goal of making India free of malnutrition.
He said it was possible to reach out to 25 crore people last month due to the convergence of various ministries which connected with the beneficiaries at the grassroots level.
"Poshan Abhiyan should be given a priority more than anything. In my opinion, no goal can be achieved without giving it a priority. Providing nutrition to everyone is the biggest challenge because nothing else matters if a child is malnourished," he told PTI on the sidelines of an event organised to celebrate the culmination of Poshan Maah (National Nutrition Month).
The government has decided to observe every September as National Nutrition Month to mark the country's fight against malnutrition.
"A convergence across various sectors can achieve the goal of making India malnutrition-free," he said.
Addressing the gathering, Kumar said the biggest achievement of Poshan Abhiyan was being able to make it into a 'Jan Andolan' (people's movement).
"We have been talking about it for the past 70 years. We have not be able to achieve our aims because we were not treating it a convergent programme.
"It helped in the convergence of various ministries which connected to the grassroots level. Second achievement is that we presented an example through the public-private partnership. Third achievement is increase of awareness," he said.
Over 500 awards were presented to various ministries, NGOs and Anganwadi workers for their contribution during the national nutrition month.
Madhya Pradesh was awarded for recording the highest number of activities under the Poshan Abhiyan at 7.7 lakh during the month, followed by Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
Among the Union Territories, Chandigarh's performance was adjudged the best with 15,351 activities, followed by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands at 429 activities.
Citing Madhya Pradesh's achievement, Kumar said other states should follow its lead as it performed over three times better than the state which was ranked second.
'Poshan Abhiyan' aims to bring down stunting of children in the age group of 0-6 years from 38.4 per cent to 25 per cent by 2022.
The eight themes of the National Nutrition Mission are antenatal, optimal breastfeeding, complementary feeding, anaemia, growth monitoring, hygiene and sanitation, food fortification and girl's education, diet and marriage at the right age.
A senior Women and Child Development Ministry official said next year on March 8, the first anniversary of Poshan Abhiyan would be celebrated and monetary rewards would be given to people for their contribution towards the mission.