The pandemic disrupted facility-based services with reduced access to government services and mobilization of existing manpower to support COVID related services.1 In most states of India, the anganwadi centers under ICDS Scheme were closed initially and several services were disrupted.2 Various guidelines were issued by the Government at the national and state levels to ensure continuity of health and nutrition services.3,4 Door‑to‑door delivery of take home rations for pregnant women and young children was one of the important measures taken.5 The PoshanCOVID19 monitoring page features many such state-level developments including measures adopted by the respective state and central governments to alleviate the situation.
The site also updates the continuity of key maternal and child health services section of 14 states on a monthly basis. Data shows that since the end of 2020, services such as take-home rations for children and mothers, Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Days, NRCs, MAA services and PMMVY maternity benefits have largely been functional in these states. Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition, Home Base Young Child Care and growth monitoring services have also been consistently operational in almost all states. However, January, 2022 was the month which saw the peak of third wave of Covid-19. The data shows that in half of the 14 states, lesser number of services were functional in January, 2022 compared to December, 2021. In the next month, the status significantly improved.6
As the third wave recedes and the restrictions are eased, it is time to fast track the restoration efforts. In a post-pandemic scenario, ensuring that food and nutrition security efforts are insulated from funding cuts even in difficult fiscal circumstances would be critical.2 Health workforce capacities are a primary challenge in ensuring continuity of essential health services. Health worker recruitment, retention and training, risk communication and community engagement are few technical areas that need to be given due consideration in strategies.7 Use of technology, flexibility and decentralized decision making were the hallmarks of innovations and adaptations undertaken by nutrition service providers during the pandemic in India.8 The same can continue to guide service delivery in the future.8
To understand the state of nutrition and food security in India, more accurate information is required but there are significant gaps in data. In this context, the PoshanCOVID19 initiative aims to aid policy and planning by maintaining a repository of information on child nutrition and maternal health and related topics in the context of COVID-19. The resources page is an archive for COVID-19 related resources on nutrition, early childhood development, and food security. The monitoring page consolidates data to monitor the interactions between COVID-19 and nutrition which are presented in an easy-to-access and interpret format to enable evidence-based decisions.
- CPR. (2021). Experiences of Frontline Workers in Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh during Covid-19 Pandemic. Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi
- Menon, P., De Wagt, A., Reddy, V., Reddy, K., Pandav, C. S., Avula, R., … & Sankar, R. (2021). Supporting efforts to address malnutrition in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in India: An emergency need. Medical Journal of Dr. DY Patil Vidyapeeth, 14(4), 369.
- MWCD. (2020). Guidance note on operations of Anganwadi services. Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India.
- Directorate of Social Welfare- Assam. (2021). Continuity of Essential Nutrition Services in context of COVID-19 and Floods, Government of Assam.
- MWCD. (2020). Instructions on the continuous nutritional support for beneficiaries under Anganwadi Services to States and UTs. Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India.
- UNICEF. (2022). Poshan Covid-19 Continuity of Services. Poshan Covid-19 Monitoring.
- WHO. (2021). Third round of the global pulse survey on continuity of essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic
- UNICEF. (n.d.) Innovations and Adaptations- Nutrition response in India during COVID-19 pandemic