It is widely acknowledged that the highest level of mental and physical well-being can be achieved by investing in initial five year of birth of baby. Critically examine Government of India's interventions in this direction.

The mental and physical well being of Infants are measured by the indicators such as Infant mortality rate (IMF), neo-natal mortality rate (NMR), the bodyweight of the infant, and maternal mortality rate (IMR). These indicators are determined by various factors such as institutional delivery, antenatal care and post delivery care, nutrition of mother and child and other socio-economic factors.
To improve these indicators Government of India has undertook various welfare measures affecting various factors determining the physical and mental well being of infants, in this context some important schemes are:

  1. Integrated child development programme: This programme was launched to provide food, preschool and primary health care to children under 6 years of age and the mothers, through anganwadi centers mainly in rural areas.
  2. Mission Indradhanush: It aims to immunize all the children under the age of 2 years and all pregnant women against seven vaccines preventable diseases.
  3. Reproduction, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health: (RMNCH+A)  Approaches to address the major causes of mortality among women and children as well as the delays in accessing and utilizing health care services. This programme has goals of reducing IMR and MMR as established in 12th five year plan. Under this programme : India Newborn Action plaa was lauched as  intervention package to improve almost the health and care factors impacting stillbirths and newborns health.
  4. Mother absolute affection programme: (MAA) A flagship programme to ensure adequate awareness is generated among masses especially mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding. 
  5. Maternity benefit scheme: Under this scheme poor pregnant womens are paid Rs.6000 directly in to bank accounts to under go institutional delivery and maintain nutritious diet.

Its no doubt that government of India has intervened positively to improve the physical and mental health of under 5 babies but despite such intervention the indicators are poor, although improved compared since independence but compared the countries which has similar per capita income as of India, the results are too poor and lags behind.  The major reasons for such poor performances are:

  1. Low public health expenditures, the budget allocations to schemes discussed above are insufficient.
  2. Poor record of implementation.
  3. Lack of primary health care centers and health workers such as doctors, nurses etc especially in rural areas.
  4. Lack of transparency and accountability.

Certain new schemes such as India newborn action plan, MAA, mission Indradhanush, RMNCH+A has promise to overcome such challenges with different and new approach and strategy,  and success in Universal vaccination and eradication of Polio from India gives new hope that these challenges can be overcome.

Question for UPSC Mains:
It is widely acknowledged that the highest level of mental and physical well-being can be achieved by investing in initial five year of birth of baby. Critically examine Government of India's interventions in this direction.

Published: March 14, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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