Healthy & Happy Children
An article published in India Today on November 30 2018, states that as per the Global Nutrition Report, India is home to 46.6 million stunted children, a third of the world’s total.
Brain development of a child starts in the mother’s womb and continues throughout infancy, up to 2 years of age and beyond. Appropriate intake of macro and micro-nutrients during intra-uterine life, as well as the first few years following birth, are crucial for brain and other organ development. Under-nutrition during this period can slow down the physical and mental growth of the child, the consequence of which is usually lifelong. Poor socio-economic conditions in developing and underdeveloped countries often result in under-nutrition.
Starting from intrauterine life till early childhood and during school, age attempts must be made to ensure children receive appropriate nutrition. Under-nutrition and infections like diarrhoea, respiratory infections, malaria, TB etc. are inter-dependent and form a vicious circle.
On the other hand, chronic infections make children undernourished. Prolonged under-nutrition has detrimental effects on all organ systems, including the gut, reducing its capacity to maintain homeostasis, and may result in life-threatening conditions. The dietary requirement of people varies with age, gender, physiological status and physical activity. Globally, millions of school-going children suffer from under-nutrition. The scenario worsens further due to the superimposition of anaemia and other infections in the children.
Unfortunately, a sizable portion of Indian children suffers from under-nutrition due to low food intake, as a result of poverty, ignorance etc. Government-sponsored Mid-Day Meal Program was rolled-out in 1995 for universal coverage of primary education through increased enrollment, improving school attendance, retention and promoting health and nutrition among school children.
To address malnourishment in children, certain state governments have introduced milk scheme in schools, as milk is considered to be a complete food. However, only milk cannot fulfil the complete nutritional requirements needed for the growth of physical and mental health; a dietary supplement added to milk serves the purpose.
The Under-Nutrition. Milk Scheme was started to combat malnourishment. In this project 150 to 200ml of milk along with Ashwagandhadi Churna( 2 to 4 gms is) given between two meals to the undernourished children. The project was first started in Chennai and then expanded to other districts of Tamil Nadu, Andaman, Mumbai and Hyderabad. More than 1000+ children have benefitted by the Jeevani Milk Scheme.
Along with providing milk and Ashwagandha Churna, the children are guided and monitored regarding their food habits and hygiene. At every centre an Ayurvedic physician is appointed to assess the pre and postconditions of children. Children are encouraged to avoid, mainly spicy and sour food as it leads to resistance in developing haemoglobin and impacts growth.
The Jeevani Milk Scheme is based on the holistic principles of Ayurveda. Hence the symptoms of Pandu, a disease having similar symptoms like anaemia and malnourishment are being measured. About 26 symptoms were taken as subjective parameters, the main eight parameters being hair fall, breathlessness, leg pain, giddiness, body ache, headache, weakness and loss of appetite. In the beginning subjective parameters were only assessed, now weight, height, BMI, MUAC are also being measured once every three months.
Assessment is done at all the centres every three months, and the key benefits that have been observed are:
• Children were more active in the classroom felt fresh throughout the day.
• Girls specifically noticed an improvement in the menstrual cycle. Increase in appetite
• Better sleep at night, leading to more alertness in the classroom & improved concentration.
• Healthy improvement in the complexion of students
• Children noticed a reduction in hair fall
It is noted that children fell sick less often, and the visit to the hospitals have decreased when compared to the past. The outcome of this project is healthy children with a good immunity level and lots of energy to engage in life.