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Jeevan Asha to fight hunger

The battle against malnutrition is set to get a boost with the launch of Jeevan Asha, a programme designed to address hunger issues in the state, on Thursday.

The programme, a collaboration between the departments of women and child development as well as health along with Unicef, will focus on 45,000 malnourished children in Jharkhand.

After the formal inauguration by governor Syed Ahmed at Raj Bhavan, the programme implementation will be left to stakeholders like anganwadi workers, sahiyas and auxiliary nursing and midwife personnel in all 24 districts.

Jeevan Asha was announced by the state social welfare department last year to address severe malnutrition in the state. However, it was not implemented thereafter.

Addressing the media at Suchna Bhavan on Wednesday, principal secretary of the state social welfare department Mridula Sinha said the programme, which is meant to eliminate acute malnutrition in the state, will be implemented in all districts from Thursday. “For two months we are going to provide high intensity nutritious food to families so that not only children (6 months to 5 years) but adults too can avail a balanced diet,” she said.

After two months, the families will be paid Rs 1,500 per month to feed themselves properly. “Anganwadi workers will help them prepare menus. In this situation, children between six months and five years of age will gain weight,” Sinha added.

Unicef will provide technical support apart from being involved in monitoring. “We will start training programmes for all stakeholders after the governor launches the programme,” he said.

Officials maintained that in the next three years, the programme will able to eradicate malnutrition.

The ambitious programme envisages that around 40,000 anganwadi workers, 30,000 sahiyas and 10,000 auxiliary personnel will be involved in identifying malnourished children, mobilise communities, organise meetings at the community level, conduct orientation programmes and also carry out door-to-door campaigns to generate awareness about the importance of nutritious diet.

After children suffering from severe malnutrition are identified after measuring their mid-arm circumference, they will be admitted in the malnutrition treatment centres. There are 48 such centres spread over 24 districts.

Echoing Sinha, Unicef Jharkhand chief Job Zachariah said the programme is an ongoing process that will continue till the problem of malnutrition is dealt with effectively.

Unicef will provide technical support apart from being involved in monitoring and evaluation. “We will start training programmes for all stakeholders after the governor launches the programme tomorrow,” he said.

Officials maintained that in the next three years, the programme will able to eradicate malnutrition.