Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme is the largest national programme for the promotion of the mother and child health and their development in the world. The beneficiaries include children below 6 years, pregnant and lactating mothers, and other women in the age group of 15 to 44 years. The package of services provided by the ICDS scheme includes supplementary nutrition, immunization, health check-up, referral services, nutrition and health education, and pre-school education. The distribution of iron and folic acid tablets and megadose of vitamin A is also undertaken, to prevent iron deficiency anaemia and xerophthalmia respectively. The scheme services are rendered essentially through the Anganwadi worker (AWW) at a village centre called "Anganwadi". The ICDS had led to (i) reduction in prevalence of severe grades of malnutrition and (ii) better utilization of services of national nutritional anaemia prophylaxis programme and the national programme for prevention of nutritional blindness due to vitamin A deficiency by ICDS beneficiaries. The ICDS scheme is being modified continuously to strengthen the programme.
PIP: This article presents the impact of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) on the nutritional status of mothers and of children under 6 years old in India. ICDS is the first and probably the only program in the country that aims at the holistic development of an individual. The reduction in prevalence of severe malnutrition is comparatively more significant in ICDS scheme population than in other population groups. There has been an extensive improvement in the nutritional status of children living in rural, urban and tribal areas and in those belonging to depressed sections of the community. The new initiative schemes for supplementary nutrition include: (a) improved monitoring mechanisms, (b) increased and improved norms of nutrition, (c) improved acceptability of supplementary recipes, (d) care of the severely malnourished, (e) the formation of a state level committee of experts, (f) inspection of quality, and (g) the introduction of community growth charts for malnourished children. The distribution of iron and folic tablets together with megadoses of vitamin A has also been undertaken for iron deficiency anemia and xerophthalmia prevention. Professionals, administrators, and politicians should feel obliged to continue making their contributions to the effective implementation of ICDS.