NEW: ‘There are Problems in Continuing the Distribution of Take Home Ration’

Q. What are your duties and responsibilities at present? Are there tasks you are currently undertaking from departments other than Women and Child Development?


Child Development Project Officer (CDPO): At present my work includes visits to Anganwadi Centres (AWCs), meetings with supervisors, supervising the use of Poshan tracker [which tracks key nutrition parameters among children, girls, and pregnant and lactating women], solving the problems of Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) and supervisors, and following the orders given by the government.


I have to work with the Janpad (Block) Panchayat Health Department, and participate in organising health camps and in the implementation of the Kanyadan scheme* in the Block.


Q. What guidelines related to COVID-19 were given to the Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) for reopening?


CDPO: We are still following the older instructions [issued under National Health Mission on 23 May 2020] relayed to us. However, many people are not wearing masks now, so if someone is constantly having fever or if a child is not coming to the centre, then we look into the same. If someone is continuously ill then we inform the Block Medical Officer (BMO) from our end.


Q. Is nutritious food being provided at the AWCs?


CDPO: Hot-cooked food is being served at the centres, but there have been problems in continuing the distribution of Take Home Ration (THR). We do not get THR on time due to production and vendor issues (as there are multiple contracts for supply).

Q. AWCs remained closed for a long time due to the pandemic. What changes have you noticed in the status of malnutrition in children? If something has changed then what steps are being taken by the government?


CDPO: The AWCs here were not closed, just that the beneficiaries were not coming to the centres. We used to call five children at a time to measure their weight. We have also been sending children to the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres (NRCs**).


There hasn’t been much change in the malnutrition level of the children at the Block level. It is not as if the malnutrition in the area has increased because of COVID-19. Instead, families paid attention to children’s meals while they were at home. Not a single child has died due to malnourishment during COVID-19. [The death figures have not been independently verified by the Accountability Initiative.]


Q. What instructions have you received from the district or the state concerning Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)?


CDPO: We have received instructions from the relevant department to continue ECCE activities. For now, we are trying to conduct various activities from the ECCE training and material we had received earlier.


Q. Are AWWs still performing duties related to the COVID-19 pandemic ? If so, what are they?


CDPO: No COVID-19 related work is currently being given to the AWWs. Right now, they are completing the work they receive from the Department of Women and Child Development.


Q. According to you, during the COVID-19 pandemic, were there things which the government should have provided but did not?


CDPO: We get all the necessary resources from the government, it is just that there is delay in receiving AWW honoraria.


This interview was conducted with a Child Development Project Officer in Madhya Pradesh in Hindi on 4 May 2022, and has been translated.

Source: The Hindu


*Chief Minister Kanyadan Yojana is a state government scheme run under the aegis of the Social Justice and Disabled Welfare Department, Government of Madhya Pradesh with an aim of providing financial assistance for marriage of daughters/widows/divorcees from poor families.


**Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres are health facilities for the care of children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and medical complications.


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