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‘Clear-cut instruction given to Aavin to get dairy whitener analysed for recommended composition’ – Mrit News

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It was also asked to submit a nutritional analysis report from an independent lab

It was also asked to submit a nutritional analysis report from an independent lab

A day after the BJP State president attributed motives to the alleged exclusion of Aavin from a tender for purchase of maternal nutrition kits, Health Department officials on Monday said Aavin was asked to add the recommended ingredients to its dairy whitener and submit a nutritional analysis report from an independent laboratory, which will be sent to the government. Due to the delay in the process, a tender with the existing specifications was moved, said T.S. Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

“The nutrition kit was meant to ensure nutrition during pregnancy, particularly to control anaemia. This will reduce chances of low birth weight and intrauterine growth retardation. The ultimate aim is to prevent maternal mortality and infant mortality,” Dr. Selvavinagayam told reporters in the presence of Health Minister Ma. Subramanian and others, after an event at Government Omandurar Medical College Hospital, Chennai.

An 11-member committee, which included obstetricians-gynaecologists, paediatricians, dieticians and representatives of Aavin, formed on June 12, 2018, had decided on the required specifications. The composition of the health mix included 32 ingredients such as energy, carbohydrate, proteins, vitamins and folic acid. As per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Nutrition guidelines, for pregnant women a quantity is specified for all 32 ingredients. This is called Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and Estimated Average Requirement (EAR), he said.

Following a letter from Chairman of the Planning Commission To discuss the feasibility of using Aavin’s product, two meetings were held on March 7 and 15 this year, in which Aavin’s general manager (GM) had participated.

“We asked Aavin’s GM if their milk whitener contained the RDA and EAR specifications. If so, they should get it analysed by an independent laboratory and submit a report to us. This will be sent to the government and the next step will be taken based on the government’s approval. This was our clear-cut instruction. The RDA and EAR specifications should be added to the milk whitener and verified. Due to the delay, the tender was moved as per the existing specifications,” he said.

Deepak Jacob, managing director of Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation, said as far as the tender was concerned, a government order was issued in 2018 and procurement was made so far based on a purchase order issued in April 1, 2019.

“As the validity was over, a new tender was floated in February 2022. The evaluation is being done as per the Tamil Nadu Transparency in Tenders Act and associated rules. Tender evaluation is in the final stages. After this, the result will be published and complaints/grievances will be sought. Simultaneously, sample evaluation will be done after which the financial bid will be opened. We have not reached that stage but accusations have been levelled before that,” he said.

As per the existing tender, the MRP of PRO-PL health mix, which was supplied since 2018, was ₹588, while TNMSC procured it for ₹460.50.

Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan said procurements were based on recommendations made for pregnant women. “We cannot use dairy whitener. The content is different, the purpose is different and the quantity of each content is different. Without understanding this, it is wrong to make comparisons,” he said. “If Aavin gave an equivalent product, then we can make a comparison,” he added.

Mr. Subramanian said the nutritional kits were not purchased during the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Fund of ₹450 crore allotted for the purpose was returned to the government. The tender was floated to meet the needs for the forthcoming year,” he said.

Aavin’s milk powder was used in making tea/coffee. Whether it was a health mix was the question, he said.

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