Anganwadi Services

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    In News

    • Recently, the Women and Child Development Ministry informed the Parliament on the contribution of the MGNREGA  scheme to the  building of Anganwadi centres.

    About:

    • The Ministry has Informed that 75% of the new anganwadi centres to be constructed in the current year will be built in convergence with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme.
    • It has also informed that the ?12 lakh cost of construction of each anganwadi centre would also be split, with ?8 lakh being provided under MGNREGS. The remaining ?4 lakh will be paid by the Central and State governments in equal amounts.

    Anganwadi Centres 

    • The anganwadi centres, operated under the Integrated Child Development Services scheme are the first contact point in the  village  for nutrition, health and early learning.
    • The ICDS is the largest in the world, covering about 88 million children aged 0-6 years in India.
    • Anganwadis are the centre for early childhood care and education (ECCE).they also provide basic health care facilities in Indian villages. It is a part of the Indian public health-care system.

    Significance of Anganwadi scheme:

    • Affordable and accessible healthcare: Today in India, about 2 million anganwadi workers are reaching out to a population of 70 million women, children and sick people, helping them become and stay healthy. Anganwadi workers are the most important and soft-ignored essential link of Indian healthcare.
    • Local Connect & Community Mobilisation: Anganwadi workers have the advantage over the physicians living in the same rural area, which gives them insight into the state of health in the locality and assists in identifying the cause of problems and in countering them.
    • Eradicating Malnourishment: One-third of the world’s stunted children live in India.Anganwadis are integral for the success of ICDS programme that caters to the nutrition, health and pre-education needs of children till six years of age as well as the health and nutrition of women and adolescent girls.
    • Ensuring Access to Government Programmes: Anganwadi workers are India’s primary tool against the menace of child malnourishment, infant mortality, and lack of child education, community health problems and in curbing preventable diseases. These community health workers have been point-persons for rural communities to access key health services and benefits.
    • Health Crisis Management: With little training and immense risk, they went to households to spread awareness on COVID-19 as well as carry out tasks like contract tracing.

    Issues with Anganwadi centres

    • Lack of Skill Set: Despite being the major source of nutrition advice, anganwadi staff may be lacking in technical skills.Knowledge of critical health behaviours such as complementary feeding and handwashing was poor among mothers listed as anganwadi workers.
    • Lack of Resources: Anganwadi personnel frequently lack the resources or training necessary to deliver ECCE.
    • Demotivating Service Conditions:  The frontline workers in Anganwadi Centres Lack  further career prospects and adequate service conditions The officers and their helpers who staff Anganwadis are typically women from poor families. The workers do not have permanent jobs with comprehensive retirement benefits like other government staff. 
    • Lack of Time: Administrative obligations consume a large amount of time, and fundamental services such as pre-school education suffer as a result.
    • Lack of Infrastructure: Infrastructure is frequently lacking in anganwadis. According to NITI Aayog, only 59% of anganwadis had enough seating for children and employees, and more than half were unsanitary.

    Remedial Measures

    • Convergence with MNREGA : the government has taken up Construction of 4 lakh AWC buildings across the country under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in convergence with Anganwadi Services (ICDS Scheme).
    • Mobile Phones: Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) have been provided with Smart Phones for efficient service delivery.
    • Streamlined guidelines were issued covering several aspects such as quality assurance, roles and responsibilities of duty holders, procedure for procurement, integrating AYUSH concepts and Data management 
    • Increased Training:  the Ministry has formulated a comprehensive training strategy for the functionaries of Anganwadi Services. Training is imparted to the functionaries on a regular basis.Anganwadi Workers are provided job training for 26 working days. During this job training, the knowledge, understanding and skills of Anganwadi Workers on various Acts, Policies, Programmes related to women and children, setting up vibrant Anganwadi Centres and  conducting Early Childhood Care and Education activities, .
    • ICT Integration :  a robust ICT enabled platform named Poshantracker has been designed to capture real-time data on implementation and monitoring of Anganwadi Services across the country.
      • The Poshan Tracker management application provides a 360 – degree view of the activities of the Anganwadi Centre (AWC), service deliveries of Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) and complete beneficiary management.

    Way Forward

    • As the world’s largest provider of early childhood services, anganwadis perform a crucial role in contributing to life outcomes of children across India.
      • To improve these outcomes, we need to invest more significantly in anganwadis, and roll out proven innovative interventions.

    Integrated Child Development Services

    • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is a  major national program that addresses the needs of children under the age of six years.
    • It seeks to provide young children with an integrated package of services such as supplementary nutrition, health care and pre-school education.
    • Because the health and nutrition needs of a child cannot be addressed in isolation from those of his or her mother, the program also extends to adolescent girls, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
    • The scheme primarily runs through the Anganwadi centre. The scheme is under the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
    • Integrated Child Development Services is Centrally-Sponsored and will provide the following six services to the beneficiaries:
      • Supplementary Nutrition (SNP)
      • Health & Nutrition Check-Up
      • Immunization
      • Non-Formal Education for Children in Pre-School
      • Health and Nutrition Education
      • Referral services

    Source:TH