Need to expand public food baskets to counter malnutrition: Experts

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Experts gather at the recent event organised by the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation

An enabling system require in a place where mother to feed self and their children in optimum level to eradicate malnutrition. A policy intervention needs to be in place which makes nutritious food accessible to socially weaker section across the South Asia.

This was the call made by South Asia regional experts in the session ‘Needed Policy Change for India and South Asia to improve Nutritional status of Children and Women’ chaired by Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization, at the final day of three-day International Consultation titled: “Ensuring Food and Nutrition Security in the Context of Climate Change and the COVID-19 Pandemic”, organized by the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in Chennai, held from 6th to 10th August 2021.

Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, New Delhi showcased government efforts in addressing agricultural and nutrition challenges through new technology. She gave comprehensive overview what government is doing under POSHAN Abhiyan.

Dr Gagandeep Kang, Professor of Microbiology, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu emphasized over maternal education which is related to children health and new approaches to feeding. She said Microbiome can be a point of intervention for a policy-maker. 

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization, made a remark in concluding session: “How a system can enable a family and mother to feed self and child. One of the proposals would be to expand the food basket of Public Distribution System (PDS) for those who belong to socio-economic weaker section. The current basket is only taking care of food insecurity by providing only cereals. Nutritional security has a big gap in current system. We need to fill it with millets, pulses, fruits, vegetables and animals’ proteins. We have to think about policy intervention which make these food baskets affordable to people. They can access which is currently sub-optimal available.”

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