Anganwadi services have a poor reach among key beneficiaries – the poorest of the poor and uneducated mothers – according to a paper published in a WHO bulletin recently.
The government’s Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) provides a package of six services at anganwadi or child-care centres to young children and pregnant women and lactating mothers. These services include supplementary nutrition, referral services, immunisation, health check-up, pre-school non-formal education and health and nutrition education.
The study analyses the findings of the National Family Health Survey 2005-2006 and 2015-2016 to compare the coverage of ICDS over a 10-year period.
During this time, the average respondents benefiting from these services increased from 9.6% to 37.9% for supplementary food, 3.2% to 21% for health and nutrition education, 4.5% to 28% for health check-ups and 10.4% to 24.2% for child-specific services over a period of 10 years.
At the same time, the poorest of the poor or quintile 1, who were the largest beneficiaries in 2006, got left behind quintile 2 and quintile 3 by 2016 for all four indicators such as supplementary food, counselling on nutrition, health check-ups and early childhood services, shows the study authored by Suman Chakrabarti, Kalyani Raghunathan, Harold Alderman, Purnima Menon and Phuong Nguyen.
For example, supply of food supplements in 2006 was the highest for the poorest quintile (11.7%). However, by 2016, they accounted for 34.8% of the respondents, behind quintile 2 (41.7%), 3 (45.5%) and 4 (39.7%).
The study also said that mothers without any schooling were the lowest beneficiaries as compared to those with primary and secondary schooling in 2006, and they continued to be so in 2016.