arly childhood development (ECD) has emerged as a
significant change agent in achieving sustainable development supported
by research. It focuses on pre-birth to below 6 years age children for
their all-round development (brain, body, socio-emotional). It can also
reduce many vulnerabilities and inequalities, including gender bias.
Lately, international community has recognized the importance of ECD
In recent years, the Indian government has
spearheaded early childhood development and education initiatives. The
ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education) Policy 2013  and The
National Food Security Act  are supportive to ECD. India has the
world’s largest ECD program – the Integrated Child Development Services
(ICDS) Scheme . Anganwadi Centers (AWCs) have been established in
every corner of the country, and are the only public institution aiming
to reach all children aged less than six years. It caters to primary
healthcare, referral to secondary healthcare, immunization,
supplementary nutrition, growth monitoring, and pre-school education.
Special care is taken to reach marginalized populations. High load of
malnutrition of all sorts, educational deficits, safety issues and
health problems are overwhelming in India. AWCs act as the grassroot
units of change to deal with all these issues. However, there is a
desired need to strengthen them by supporting effective implementation,
coordination and convergence with various departments at every level.
The National Health Mission had envisaged
participation and utilization of the private sector in public health
services . Mobilization of private sector health workforce by their
capacity building in terms of orientation toward public health services
is one of the available solutions to move toward wider coverage of
public health services. Inclination toward availing services from
private sector is also corroborated from NFHS-4 report, which states
that almost half of the health care in times of sickness is availed from
the private sector.
Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) is committed to
improve health of children by imparting latest education and training of
members and other stakeholders of child health in India and abroad; and
doing advocacy and technical collaboration for the same. Many of our
members are actively doing social community work in various aspects of
child health. Under IAP Action Plan 2019-20, we envisage a proposal for
involvement of our members to strengthen working of AWCs in following
areas through Project AANGAN (Anganwadi Approach to Nutrition, Growth
1. Nutrition Education: Nutrition of pregnant,
lactating mothers and children, including breastfeeding and
complementary feeding counseling, and fighting junk food menace
2. Growth monitoring and referral to appropriate
centers whenever indicated
3. Developmental screening and referral
4. Child protection and safety education
5. Health and immunization education and services
6. Nurturing responsive care and parenting skills
7. Data management for research
Members can choose the field of their involvement on
voluntary basis, and work by strengthening education and training or
serving directly to children, consistently for a long-defined period.
While we discuss and finalize logistics with
government, a pilot project of AANGAN was launched on 26 February 2019.
We appeal members to come forward voluntarily and contribute to the
cause by enrolling their commitment by reply email to
1. UNICEF. Early Childhood Development. Available
Accessed March 21, 2019.
2. Ministry of Women and Child Development,
Government of India. National Early Childhood Care and Education Policy.
Available from: http://www.icdsbih.gov.in/ECCE WebCurriculum/ECCEDocumentsandletters/ECCE
PolicyEnglish_2013.pdf. Accessed March 21, 2019.
3. Government of India. The National Food Security
Act. Available from:
March 21, 2019.
4. Ministry of Women and Child Development,
Government of India. Integrated Child Development Services Scheme
(ICDS). Available from: https://icds-wcd.nic.in/icds. aspx.
Accessed March 21, 2019.
5. Government of India. National Health Mission. Available from:
http://nhm.gov.in/. Accessed March 21, 2019.