Polity & Governance Prelims cum Mains

Poorest of poor and uneducated women left behind in ICDS

The News

  • A recent study, conducted by researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), shows while coverage of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) has gone up, gaps still remain, especially when it comes to women and the poor.


Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme

  • ICDS Scheme was launched in 1975, as India’s flagship program to tackle under nutrition, and key actions under India’s new nutrition mission, the POSHAN Abhiyaan, are anchored in the programme.
  • The beneficiaries under the Scheme are children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • Objectives:
    • 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
    • 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:
    • Supplementary Nutrition
    • Pre-school non-formal education
    • Nutrition & health education
    • Immunization
    • Health check-up and
    • Referral services
  • Note: The last three services are related to health and are provided by Ministry/Department of Health and Family Welfare through National Rural Health Mission & Health system.


Summary of the Study

  • The study analyses the findings of the National Family Health Survey 2005-2006 and 2015-2016 to compare the coverage of ICDS over a 10-year period.
  • Between 2006 and 2016, the participation expanded but not all groups have benefited equally.
  • Increase in respondents benefiting from ICDS between 2006 to 2016:
    • Supplementary food: 9.6% to 37.9%
    • Health and nutrition education: 3.2% to 21%
    • Health check-ups: 4.5% to 28%
    • Child-specific services: 10.4% to 24.2%
  • The overall utilisation has improved and reached many marginalised groups such as historically disadvantaged castes and tribes, but the poor are still left behind, with lower utilisation and lower expansion throughout the continuum of care.
  • Both historically disadvantaged castes and pregnant women with low education levels were less likely to receive ICDS services than other groups.
  • Among States too, while overall utilisation has improved, high malnutrition States are relatively lagging.


Way ahead:

  • It is important to examine the reasons for variability in program use by program clients both across and within States, which must underpin policy efforts to strengthen coverage, equity and quality.

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