Jaipur April 2016


Under-nutrition is both a consequence of poverty as well as a cause of perpetuating poverty, eroding human capital through irreversible and intergenerational effects on cognitive and physical development. Nutrition constitutes the foundation for human development, by reducing susceptibility to infections, reducing the related morbidity, disability and mortality burden, enhancing cumulative lifelong learning capacities, and adult productivity.

Amidst one of the fastest growing economies of the region, India also tops the list of most number of malnourished children in the world. In fact, data (RSOC 13-14) shows that 40% of the severe acute malnourished (SAM) children worldwide are in India and they are 11.6 times more likely to die than normal children are.1 India has over 2 million children dying every year because of malnutrition, one fourth of the worldwide burden according to the Lancet.

To address this multidimensional nature of the nutrition challenges, the Twelfth Five Year Plan reinforces the commitment to preventing and reducing child under-nutrition by half (underweight prevalence in children 0-3 years), which is one of its core Monitorable targets, binding multiple sectors and States to collective action. However the achievement of these targets and beyond that the aspiration of ensuring Nutrition Security for All, requires considerable acceleration of ongoing efforts. At present a generous number of interventions from different organizations and some state governments are on the roll to address the issue, but there are issues about management of malnutrition that need specific attention, to address the same. In context of this, it becomes essential that, the community learn about malnutrition and through an integrated support strategy that can potentially promote greater efficiency in tackling malnutrition.

Taking the concern forward, a Media Sensitization Workshop on Nutrition was organized by Action Against Hunger (ACF) along with its development partners and the state Government of Rajasthan in Jaipur on 26th April 2016. The objectives of the workshop were to -
  • Share knowledge on all aspects of nutrition, under nutrition and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) amongst media house gatekeepers, journalists and editors involved in the dissemination of information.
  • Increase the availability and use of new data and information to create a steady drumbeat of information to drive coverage and deeper content.
  • Inform media groups about Community Based management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) pilot initiative launched by Medical, Health and Family Welfare Department, Government of Rajasthan.
  • Update on international discussions on nutrition targets and impact for India.
  • Promote simple and appealing messages to be carried in media to encourage effective action amongst government policy makers, programmers, community workers and families.
  • Encourage journalists to write articles on SAM and newspapers supplements.
Attendees at the workshop
Attendees at the workshop

Mr. Thomas Gonnet, Executive Director, ACF-India welcomed the participants and briefed the audience about the objective of the workshop. He spoke on the necessity of understanding malnutrition and the importance of positive reporting. He said, “This is also an additional step in building a close relationship with the national and local media”.

Ms. Meeta Mathur, Head of Health & Nutrition, ACF-India discussed about malnutrition, its core concepts, current statistics, roles and evidences on community mobilization and how mass media can play an important role in contributing for a healthier environment. Her discussions shed lights on myths related to malnutrition and provided admissible evidences in support of the same.

Mr. Naveen Jain, Mission Director, NHM, Rajasthan elaborated the Community Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (POSHAN) pilot project of Government of Rajasthan under NHM. He explained reasons for adaptation of CMAM citing evidences of deficient resources to address the same. He also highlighted the strategies, processes and outcomes of the pilot project with success stories from the field.

Ms. Minnakshi Singh, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF-Rajasthan provided a glimpse about stunting and under-nutrition with a special focus on Rajasthan. She provided useful data and statistics regarding the same, and the share of burden of malnutrition in the state. She also spoke about various approaches to move forward with a certain diligence towards a multi-sector approach. Her demonstration also highlighted areas of focus and strategies to overcome malnutrition.

Ms. Bhami Vora, Head of Health and Nutrition, Fight Hunger Foundation shared with the audience international best practices on management of malnutrition and spoke about how malnutrition gained international attention through a series of endorsements, research and movements. She also emphasized on the uniform availability of data regarding malnutrition, which will help in meeting more challenges in the management of malnutrition. She also highlighted the role of media in other South East Asian countries where they have played significant roles in defining policies.

Mr. Virendra Suhalka, Assistant Research Coordinator, ARTH shared experiences on home based management of malnutrition and cited key learnings from pilot interventions conducted by ARTH. He emphasized on the fact that although, both home/community-based and facility-based management of SAM are essential, a home/community-based approach for uncomplicated SAM children is more feasible and result oriented.

Mr. Govind Pareekh, Deputy Director, IEC PR, Government of Rajasthan spoke about how media can play an important role in positive reporting on nutrition related issues. He emphasized that if the numerous print and electronic media join hands and play synergistic roles for bringing about nutrition security, it is widely believed that they can change the face of reality.

Mr. Nitin Sarswat, SBCC Expert emphasized on media being an integral part of the community and the ways in which they can prove to be essential part of the society in the fight against malnutrition.

At the end of the session, Mr. Shashwat Saraf, Asia Operations Director, ACF-France thanked all the partners involved in organizing the workshop, the facilitators and the participants for an interactive session and emphasized that media engagement is an effective tool to raise awareness, increase dialogue and shift opinion-leader perception on nutrition related issues.

The session illustrated the seriousness of the problem; assimilation and tackling the problem by engaging the community through mobilization. It aimed to bring keenness to the successful interventions and best practices that needed attention. It also enlivened the audience and the participants with videos and clips from the communities that delivered the messages of persistent hard work of all the people involved in the successful interventions and sheer dedication of the community. It brought about vital issues regarding association of media and management of malnutrition in the community and how there is always scope for improvement of reporting that will encourage more efficient management of severe acute malnutrition.

The workshop was successful in bringing together as many as 35 media houses (19 from Print and 16 from Electronic media) involved in health and other freelancers along with the development partners for a quality exposure to malnutrition. It emphatically created a platform for exchange of viable information about malnutrition that will promote efficient involvement of multiple sectors for greater impact.


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