Ashwini Y S, Bengaluru writes in India’s Deccan Herald that the Department of Women and Child Development has launched a spirulina dietary supplement program for Anganwadi children in the south western state of Karnataka, claiming that the initiatives carried out by three major organizations had yielded positive results in addressing malnutrition. The dietary supplement will be supplied to the children in sugar-coated granular form.
According to the department’s data, there are 23,295 “severely malnutritioned” children in the state, and the department has set aside a budget of Rs 3.6 crore ($565,200USD) for administering spirulina to 25,000 children.
The department will be adopting the module experimented by the three corporations: JSW Foundation, Scania and Biocon Foundation. It will be administering two grams of spirulina per day, per child, for 180 days.
In its concept note, the department stated that the pilot program carried out by it, in association with JSW Foundation in Sandur taluk, in Ballari, has brought down malnutrition levels from 33 per cent to eight per cent. Following this, a decision was taken to supply spirulina to all the districts in Karnataka.
The concept is being treated with scepticism by many in the department, especially with regard to sourcing spirulina. There are apprehensions that the dietary supplement will be procured from a single source.
The department, which is yet to get approvals from the Planning and Finance departments, also has to carry out extensive IEC (information, education and communication) campaigns to convince the parents of these children about administering spirulina.
Women and Child Development department’s additional chief secretary Rajneesh Goel said research had shown that spirulina helped ensure better absorption of nutrients, as it was rich in iron and protein. Tenders will be floated for procuring the spirulina, she said, and the department would apply for certification to ensure that the spirulina is properly sourced and supplied.