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World Health Day 2024: Access to Nutrition – A Priority, Not an Afterthought

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“The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being.” – Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Commemorating its inception on April 7, 1948, the World Health Organisation chose to mark April 7 of every year as World Health Day, which went into force in 1950. This day highlights health-related issues of global concern. This year’s theme is My Health, My Right which supports the right of everyone, everywhere to have access to quality health.

Having good health is a basic human right. Everybody should be able to get good nutrition, the necessary medical treatment, access to safe drinking water and more. As per a study conducted by Harvard University, good nutrition helps fuel your body. The food you eat provides the nutrients your body needs to maintain your brain, muscle, bone, nerves, skin, blood circulation and immune system.

A society where everyone is in good health and can lead happy, fulfilling lives is what the theme My Health, My Right stresses on. And for good health, the first and foremost need is good nutrition. As the implementing partner of the Government of India’s PM POSHAN Abhiyaan, we, at The Akshaya Patra Foundation, strive to improve the general health of school-aged children by providing them nutritious mid-day meals.

Mid-day Meals and General Health

Macronutrients are essential to facilitate proper growth during the developmental years and therefore, are important ingredients of wholesome mid-day meals for children. Nutrient-dense foods such as proteins, whole grains, healthy fats and fresh fruits and vegetables are indicative of a healthy diet.
Proper nutrition also plays a protective role against illnesses and ailments that can impede a child’s development. This supports the right of children to the best possible health. A healthy childhood sets the stage for a healthy adulthood and nutritious mid-day meals lay the foundation for that healthy childhood.

According to the guidelines of the PM POSHAN Abhiyaan, mid-day meals should also provide children important micronutrients like iron, zinc, folic acid, vitamin A and so on. We meticulously design and prepare mid-day meals whilst adhering to these guidelines.

Mid-day meals have a significant impact on children coming from weaker socio-economic backgrounds. It is often challenging for parents to send their children to school. The guarantee of a daily meal serves as an incentive for parents to enrol their children in school. Children who eat a healthy school lunch each day are better able to focus in class. For a child’s physical and cognitive growth, proper diet is crucial. Enhancing their ability to focus leads to increased participation in activities and improved academic success.

In an effort to provide a healthy foundation for development during important phases, we also feed cooked meals to pregnant and nursing mothers as well as children aged three to six in Anganwadi centres. Additionally, we feed wholesome, freshly prepared meals to mothers in the ashrams in Vrindavan to ensure that they are not devoid of healthy meals. These meals guarantee that the women lead a life of dignity and respect.

In a letter addressed to Akshaya Patra for achieving the remarkable milestone of serving 4 billion meals, Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi congratulated the collective efforts of those involved. He said: “This achievement stands as a testament to an unwavering commitment to eradicate hunger and provide nourishment to humanity.”

That good nutrition is one of the most important aspects of good health is backed by several studies. As a matter of fact, eating well is the foundation for a healthy and fulfilling life. Good nutrition is important, no matter the age. At Akshaya Patra, we have always aimed to lay a solid and healthy foundation for both young and old as we believe with conviction that it is their right.

This World Health Day, you can help those in need eat better by contributing to our feeding programmes. You also get a tax exemption of 50% under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act on your contribution.

Tags : NGO in IndiaPM Poshan AbhiyaanWorld health day

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