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Daily News Analysis

Kerala tops in care for children

5th September, 2020 Society

Context: Report brought out by non-governmental organisation measures health, nutrition Kerala, Goa, Tripura, Tamil Nadu and Mizoram are among the top five States for wellbeing of children, according to a report brought out by nongovernmental organization Mobile Creches and launched by Vice-President.

More about news:

  • The young child outcomes index measures health, nutrition and cognitive growth with the help of indicators such as infant mortality rate, stunting and net attendance at the primary school level.
  • It identifies eight States that have scores below the country’s average: they are Assam, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  • The index is part of the ‘State of the Young Child’ in India report released the 50 year old NGO, which works in the field of early childhood care and development by ensuring creche services at construction sites and slum settlements across several cities.
  • The index has been constructed for two time periods (2005–2006 and 2015–2016) to enable inter-State comparisons as well as provide an idea of change over time.

Environment index

  • The report has also developed another index called the young child environment index to understand the policy and environment enablers that influence a child’s wellbeing.
  • According to the environment index, Kerala, Goa, Sikkim, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh secured the top five positi
  • It uses five policy enablers that influence child wellbeing outcomes, including poverty alleviation, strengthening primary healthcare, improving education levels, safe water supply and promotion of gender equity.
  • The environment index was constructed for 2015– 2016 only due to limitations of data availability.
  • The eight States that have a below average score on the outcomes index also fared poorly on this one.

Public spending

  • The report calls for an increase in public spending on children.
  • According to its analysis on expenses towards child nutrition, healthcare, education and other necessary protection services, India spent ₹_1,723 per child in 2018–2019, an amount that is insufficient and fails to reach the entire eligible population.
  • The report points out that while the budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Women and Child Development has seen a year on year increase, all the additional funds have been allocated towards nutrition delivery under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).
  • While the population of children under six years of age is 158.8 million, the ICDS covers only 71.9 million children as calculated from the total number of beneficiaries across States.

Integrated Child Development Scheme

  • Launched on 2nd October, 1975, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme is one of the flagship programmes of the Government of India and represents one of the world’s largest and unique programmes for early childhood care and development.
  • It is the foremost symbol of country’s commitment to its children and nursing mothers, as a response to the challenge of providing pre-school non-formal education on one hand and breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, morbidity, reduced learning capacity and mortality on the other.
  • The beneficiaries under the Scheme are children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.

Objectives of the Scheme are:

  • To improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years;
  • To lay the foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child;
  • To reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropout;
  • To achieve effective co-ordination of policy and implementation amongst the various departments to promote child development; and
  • To enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.

Services under ICDS

The ICDS Scheme offers a package of six services, viz.

  • Supplementary Nutrition
  • Pre-school non-formal education
  • Nutrition & health education
  • Immunization
  • Health check-up and
  • Referral services