Nutrition on a psycho-social platter

Nutrition on a psycho-social platter

Man requires food on a routine basis along with air and water to survive in today’s world. And acquires shelter, skills and education to sustain the survival. Malnutrition prevails in the species in tandem with the man’s survival instincts and will to sustain. But then efforts have been made world-wide to address the ill effects of malnutrition since last few decades and that too not impacted as much required. Rural areas are in stark contrast to the urban vicinity but malnutrition doesn’t discriminate. It persists irrespective of dwelling, caste, creed and prosperity. Village households are clean and amidst nature but then crippled with the causes of malnutrition.
Government, Academia, Civil Society Organizations, Development partners and social wings of corporate/s have joined together to usher-in with:

Figure 1 Service Provider in one of villages on VHND executing the tasks since last 50 years

  • Electronic versions of IEC and IPC materials, training modules
  • Web-based MIS
  • Software based monitoring mechanisms
  • Usage of tele-communications

thus reaching out to the stakeholder, beneficiary and service provider every second, minute and hour of the day.

Man is the head of the family and woman takes the centre space in each household irrespective of rural and urban context. Having confidence on technology (as mentioned in above bullets) in reaching out to the community is visible in the program strategies and implementation modalities.
Tribal and few rural areas are remote, unreached and sans-facilities and basic amenities in the country. Many primitive and rigid myths and behaviors thrive that lead to deaths of mothers and children under five years and malnourished habits in the school-going children, adolescent girls/boys and women/men.

Figure 2 Remoteness of a tribal village (with hamlets) in the need of its own catalyst (human interface)

Nutritional orientation is comparatively newer than food orientation among the human population. In-person interactions, counseling and motivations can bring in faster changes in the behaviors and seldom done.

Behaviors related to the nutritional orientation are much more complex. Therefore, these require in-person interactions, counseling and motivations along with the technology interventions. Who can be more eligible to conduct these in-person interactions other than a woman herself? When a woman dons the cap of:

  • Facilitator
  • Catalyst
  • Motivator

Figure 3 Nutrition rich options demonstrated round the year but not reaching to the community at large

she becomes a change agent in the community; by the community and for the community. In present times there is a need to adopt psycho-social measures to tackle the challenges of malnutrition in a new born baby, child, girls and boys; adolescent girls, women and mothers at large. These psycho-social measures if get entwined in the micro-plans of a block/project of a government department shall lead to sustainable changes in the behaviors of the community.
Last but not the least, existing cadre of Doctors and Super-specialists need to be sensitized on foods and nutrition; policy makers, legislatives and academia need to venture into strategizing towards psycho-social components to address the ills and curb the prolonged effects of malnutrition in coming years.

Prepared by-
Ms. Pragnya Das
Independent Professional

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