TAUNGGYI – The Nutrition Promotion Month (2019) with the theme of ‘’Invest in Nutrition: Join Hands in Building the Nation’’ will be conducted throughout August by seeking attention to the importance of coordinated effort to support good nutrition for all populations in Myanmar. With the leadership of the National Nutrition Centre, Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health and Sports, more than 30 partners will hold interactive activities with families and children across the country in collaboration with UNICEF, WHO, NGOs and multi-donor trust funds including Access to Health and LIFT.
Although malnutrition rates among children under the age of five in Myanmar have decreased over the past decade, it still remains high with about one in every four children under the age of five stunted. Some states/regions also have high rates of malnutrition usually due to a combination of factors, including inadequate dietary intake, frequent illness, poor hygiene and sanitation, poverty, limited knowledge, and poor access to basic health and social services. Thus, addressing nutrition problems requires coordinated efforts from different Ministries, relevant sectors and partners to work closely together towards a common goal.
“Investing in nutrition is one the best investments for the development of the country. What we invest will be returned to us 16 times over,” said His Excellency Dr Myint Htwe, Union Minster for
Ministry of Health and Sports. “Because nutrition challenges touch upon many aspects – from food security and agriculture, to health, education and hygiene and sanitation, nutrition cannot be improved without contributions from each of these areas which is reflected in the Multi-Sectoral National Plan of Action for Nutrition (MS-NPAN). This year’s Nutrition Promotion Month is an opportunity to highlight that this new plan for nutrition will increase investment and scale-up of evidence-based programmes to improve the nutrition of people in Myanmar.”
The MS-NPAN plan is a five-year plan (2018-2022) led by the Ministry of Health and Sports (MoHS) in collaboration with of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief, and Resettlement (MoSWRR), Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI) and Ministry of Education (MoE).
“On behalf of partners, I would like to commend the Government for its continued high-level commitment to nutrition,” said June Kunugi, UNICEF Representative and new Chair of the Scaling Up Nutrition UN Network in Myanmar. “Parents, families and communities must be empowered with knowledge and tools to ensure the best nutrition for their children and themselves, and the multi-sectoral plan for nutrition provides an opportunity to accelerate our efforts in addressing key challenges in nutrition.”
Malnutrition remains a major contributing factor to child mortality and can have irreversible damage on a child’s development. The beginning of a child’s life from conception to her or his second birthday, also called the first 1,000 days of life, is a critical window of opportunity. Appropriate nutrition during these early years, including during pregnancy, are critical for physical growth and brain development, and is the foundation for children to realize their full potential.
During the nutrition promotion month of August, each week will focus on a specific theme: World Breastfeeding Week; Under-five and school going-age children Nutrition Promotion Week; Pregnant and Lactating Women Nutrition Promotion Week and Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) Elimination and Food Fortification Week to address the different but complementary components of nutrition problems.