24 September 2019 | News
The research findings presented at this event brought together an updated body of evidence on the major program pillars of POSHAN Abhiyaan (India’s national nutrition mission)
As India observes September 2019 as the national nutrition month (or Poshan Maah) to mark the country’s fight against malnutrition, over 100 members of the nutrition research community met recently to share insights from research on strengthening the implementation of maternal and child nutrition initiatives. Researchers and policymakers discussed the latest evidence on the effectiveness of nutrition interventions for children and women of childbearing age, and how these findings can be used to improve nutrition-related programs and policies.
Emphasizing on the importance of implementation research for scaling-up nutrition programs with equity and quality, Dr. R Hemalatha, Director of National Institute of Nutrition, said “The high-quality research findings presented at this event will help us navigate the health and nutrition programs, and understand the gaps that must be addressed. These insights have come at a time when India is accelerating its policy efforts to address malnutrition and close the gaps in intervention reach.”
The event was co-hosted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the National Institute of Nutrition and NITI Aayog. It was also supported and co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Alive & Thrive (A&T), UNICEF, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), the World Bank, and The India Nutrition Initiative (TINI).
This was organized with the key objectives of sharing findings from ongoing or recently completed implementation research studies in nutrition, and deliberating on ways of tapping into these findings to help strengthen the coverage, equity and quality of nutrition programs in India.
In the context of India’s nutrition efforts, a range of implementation research studies have been conducted on the use of technology in the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), reach and effectiveness of behavior change communications efforts, challenges faced by the frontline workers, and factors affecting the way client populations use major platforms and engage with interventions. Studies are also being conducted on major components of India’s flagship programs, such as the food supplements under ICDS, growth monitoring, micronutrient supply chains and other services.
The studies presented at this event, in the form of oral and poster presentations, took a closer look at the broader themes of integrating technology into ICDS, factors affecting the implementation of ICDS services, evidence on the ICDS’ Supplementary Nutrition Program (SNP), maternal nutrition interventions, and scaling-up social and behavioral change communication. A panel of eminent nutrition stakeholders and policymakers deliberated on ways of using these implementation research findings to improve program coverage, equity and quality.
Dr. Vinod Paul, Member (Health) of the NITI Aayog said, “Implementation research in nutrition is critical to support programs effectively. The implementation evidence, as unraveled by these study findings, will go a long way in supporting POSHAN Abhiyaan’s efforts to catalyse better coverage and quality of interventions, close equity gaps in the major determinants of malnutrition, support families in improving nutrition-related behaviors and mitigate other social determinants of malnutrition.”
Dr. Purnima Menon from IFPRI said, “The research community must continue to share emerging insights on each of the thematic areas that India’s nutrition mission is focused on, and help to inform the policy and program with evidence-based choices. In this process, implementation research is the beacon of light that tries to answer the crucial and pertinent questions on ensuring better scale, reach and effectiveness of nutrition interventions.”
IFPRI is collaborating with various development partners, research institutes and policy-influencing bodies, like the NITI Aayog, on several aspects of data analytics and research to support the government’s nutrition efforts. With a long-term view of strengthening a data-focused environment for the implementation of programs to realize the vision of a healthier and malnutrition-free India by 2022.