Integrated Child Development Scheme
What is an Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)?
The ICDS (Integrated child development scheme), launched in 1975 is a welfare scheme for children between 0-6 years pregnant, and nursing women. This scheme aims to address the issues of malnutrition among children, fulfilling other needs for the complete development of children, and provide health care services to pregnant and nursing women. It is a centrally funded scheme and the GOI along with the Ministry of women and child development (MoWCD) takes care of the smooth functioning of this scheme.
Every year more than 90 million children and mothers get benefited from the Integrated child development scheme (ICDS).
What are the Major Objectives of ICDS?
- Promotion of ICDS in the village to educate people about health and nutrition to reduce the risk of malnutrition.
- Focusing on the proper early age development of children below the age of 3.
- Setting up local child health care in villages to provide primary health care services to the women and children.
- Attaining coordination between different government departments and promoting child development.
- Raising awareness among the people regarding the importance of child health care, maternal health, and nutrition.
What are the services offered under ICDS?
A total of six services are offered under the Integrated child development scheme, mentioned below.
- Supplementary Nutrition: Under this scheme, pregnant women and children below the age of 6 years are provided with free nutrition-rich food. The service is provided via Anganwadi workers.
- Free Health Check-Up: The ICDS allows free health check-ups at regular intervals for pregnant women and children (0-6 years).
- Preliminary education: The Integrated child development scheme allows children from 3-6 years of age to get free preliminary non-formal education in the state government-owned schools.
- Referral Services: In case of emergency or during regular health check-ups a physician can refer the patient to any primary health care center or a government hospital.
- Immunization: Immunization (vaccination) of children and pregnant women under ICDS reduces the chances of certain medical disorders like polio, tetanus, tuberculosis, etc.
- Nutrition and Health Education: Under ICDS women between the ages of 15-40 are taught about health and nutrition. It also includes teaching proper feeding methods for infants.
How to register under ICDS?
Any pregnant women/ lacking mothers or children below the age of 6 years are eligible to enjoy services under the ICDS. There are no specific criteria for registration under ICDS and anyone falling under the above category no matter who comes above or below the poverty line can enjoy benefits under ICDS.
There is no specific registration process for this scheme, beneficiaries can simply have access to the services from their nearest Anganwadi center (AWC). Expanding the ICDS scheme the GOI is multiplying the number of AWCs every year and at present, there are more than 14 lakhs AWCs operating all over the nation.
Advantages and Impact of ICDS:
- ICDS played an important role in fighting malnutrition across the nation.
- The cases of anemia in women significantly dropped after the better utilization of the National Nutritional Anemia Prophylaxis Program under the ICDS scheme.
- The issues of partial or complete blindness among children due to the deficiency of vitamin A reduced by the national diet provided to the children in AWCs.
- Prior to ICDS, a few children in villages attain preliminary education but with the help of ICDS, every student got access to free preliminary education, which is quite important for the complete development of children.
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