Public health interventions, barriers, and opportunities for improving maternal nutrition in India
Abstract:Background. Inadequate nutrient intake, early and multiple pregnancies, poverty, caste discrimination, and gender inequality contribute to poor maternal nutrition in India. While malnutrition is seen throughout the life cycle, it is most acute during childhood, adolescence, pregnancy, and lactation. Although nutrition policies are on the books and interventions are in place, child malnutrition and maternal undernutrition persist as severe public health problems.
Objective. To evaluate the implementation of maternal nutrition programs in India.
Methods. The research was conducted in two phases. Phase 1 consisted of a desk review of national and state policies pertinent to maternal nutrition and national-level key informant interviews with respondents who have a working knowledge of relevant organizations and interventions. Phase 2 utilized in-depth interviews and focus group discussions at the state, district, and community levels in eight districts of two states: Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. All data were analyzed thematically.
Results. India has a rich portfolio of programs and policies that address maternal health and nutrition; however, systematic weaknesses, logistical gaps, resource scarcity, and poor utilization continue to hamper progress.
Conclusions. Elevating the priority given to maternal nutrition in government health programs and implementing strategies to improve women's status will help to address many of the challenges facing India's nutrition programs. Programs can be strengthened by promoting integration of services, ensuring effective procurement mechanisms for micronutrient and food supplements, establishing regional training facilities for improved program implementation, and strengthening program monitoring and evaluation.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 2012
Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.
The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.
Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106
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