Webinar on ‘Women Nutrition: Issues, Challenges and Way Forward’ by Resource Centre for Advancement on Public Health Nutrition, Dept of CM&FM, AIIMS Bhubaneswar & UNICEF Odisha

Bhubaneswar : Nutritional status of women affects growth and development of
children. With the “Nutrition Month” continuing, AIIMS Bhubaneswar in collaborations with UNICEF Odisha organized an exclusive thematic webinar on ‘Women Nutrition: Issues, Challenges and Way Forward’ on Tuesday over online webinar platform Zoom. The webinar was attended by experts including Dr. Vikas Bhatia, Executive Director, AIIMS Bibinagar, Telangana, Dr. Sheila C. Vir, Director, Public Health Nutrition and Development Centre, New Delhi, Dr. Babita Mahapatra, Addl. CEO, Odisha Livelihoods Mission, Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water Dept. Govt. of Odisha, Dr. Swayam Pragyan Parida, Associate Professor, CM & FM Dept, AIIMS Bhubaneswar, Mr. Sourav Bhattacharjee, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Odisha and Ms. Sonali Sinha, Sr. Consultant, Women’s Nutrition RCAPHN, other faculty and consultants of RCAPHN, AIIMS, Bhubaneswar. As many as 400 participants from across the country including medical students, doctors and experts attended the brainstorming webinar on women nutrition.
Setting the context, Mr. Sourav Bhattacharjee, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Odisha said, “All of us know, this is the ‘Poshan Maah’going on. We are currently focused on the first thousand days which is basically the period from conception to the end of the first two years of a child which are basically windows of opportunity for addressing critical childhood stunting. However, till date the nutrition interventions for Indian children have largely been on interventions on after birth. Focusing on women’s nutrition during pre-pregnancy and pregnancy twill go a long way in reducing stunting
among children.
Highlighting on issues faced in women nutrition, Dr. Vikas Bhatia, Executive Director, AIIMS Bibinagar, Telangana said, “We could see a lot of change and lot of progress but yet we have to do a lot because malnutrition is still a big challenge. Particularly for the women and the adolescent nutrition, focused attention is required. He emphasized on development of nutrition related courses in institutes, integration of nutrition curriculum in MBBS course.
Throwing light of various challenges in Women’s Nutrition particularly during COVID 19, Dr. Babita Mahapatra, Addl. CEO, Odisha Livelihoods Mission, Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water Dept. Govt. of Odisha said, “According to NFHS 4 2015-16, a quarter of women of reproductive age in India are under nourished, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 18.5 kg/m. It is well known that an under nourished mother would give birth to an undernourished baby.” “Factors which affect the nutrition of a women includes patriarchy, intra household food distribution, early marriage, early pregnancy, too close pregnancy, limited mother education, domestic violence, poverty and limited
access to services” she added.
Speaking on problems faced by women during COVID 19 and various Govt interventions into it, Ms. Babita Mahapatra said “during COVID 19 the women especially the marginalized category faced issues such as loss of livelihood leading to food insecurity, devoid of cooked mid-day meal due to AWC and school closure, market closure leading to inaccessibility of different types if food, increase work load, inaccessibility to health services, joblessness, domestic violence and increased child marriage.” “ Various interventions that were taken forward were multi – stakeholders approach,
women’s collective like Self Help Group (SHG) and their federation were leveraged to pull resources and support, women run enterprises and livelihood activities were promoted and supported, nutrition centric livelihood promotion, strengthening public delivery services like ICDS and MDM,creating employment opportunity under MGNREGS, corporate tie ups and linkages of the products and bank linkages for micro –credit supports”.
Speaking on the significance, public policies and way forward, in the current challenging situation in women nutrition, Dr. Sheila C. Vir, Director, Public Health Nutrition and Development Centre, New Delhi said, “The POSHAN ABHIYAN of Central Govt. is focused on preventing and reducing stunting in children 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022, prevent underweight prevalence rate by 6%, reduce anemia in children 6-59 months by 9%, reduce anemia among women and adolescent girls 15-45 years of age by 9% and reduce low birth weight (LBW) by 6%.”
Further speaking on women nutritional facts she said, “poor women nutrition such as poor height, thinness, BMI and anemia impacts not only maternal mortality but overall health productivity, earning and decision making capacity, family and childcare by a women. Poor women’s nutrition lead to maternal under-nutrition impairs fetal development and contributes to LBW and also increases the risk of stunting of child by 2.1 to 4.3 times.”

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