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United Nations and Viet Nam launch programme to end malnutrition and stunting in children

05/10/2015

Hanoi, Viet Nam. United Nations Organizations and the Government of Viet Nam launched today an integrated nutrition and food security programme to end malnutrition and stunting for children and vulnerable groups in Viet Nam.

The programme launch comes just one week after Viet Nam joined 193 nations in signing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to put an end to hunger and poverty by 2030.  The Government of Spain has provided 1.5 million USD channelled through a SDGs fund to support the integrated nutrition and food security programme in Viet Nam.
 
Although Viet Nam has reached the Millennium Development Goals of halving both under-five mortality and infant mortality, malnutrition among children under five remains a major public health challenge.  While the national statistics show a slow but steady decline in malnutrition rates in Viet Nam, poor nutrition still accounts for 45 per cent of total under-five deaths. Recent figures indicate that 25 per cent of children under five are stunted while 14.5 per cent are underweight (NIN - Annual Report 2014).  

Significant disparities in the nutritional status of children are driven by socio-economic conditions of the households they live in, geography and ethnic groups. For example, the stunting prevalence is 35 per cent in Lao Cai province and 27 per cent in Ninh Thuan province, compared to less than 8 per cent in Ho Chi Minh City.

Today’s launch reinforces Viet Nam’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals of ending hunger, promoting sustainable agriculture, achieving food security and nutrition especially for children and vulnerable groups in Viet Nam.

“I strongly believe that the support of this project will practically contribute to improving the health and nutrition of mothers and children in Viet Nam, enforcing guidelines and policies of the State of Viet Nam, especially ensuring the sustainability of the Millennium Development Goals and orienting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals that the United Nations has just adopted.” said Mr. Nguyen Thanh Long, Vice Minister, Ministry of Health.

Ms. Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam said: “From the UN side, a total of four UN agencies - FAO, UNICEF, WHO and UN Women - will work together, each utilizing their core knowledge and expertise on food security, health and nutrition for children and vulnerable groups in Viet Nam.”

Viet Nam has put in place several national policies to improve the nutrition and food security across the country, including a Nutrition Strategy that aims at intensify interventions to improve maternal, neonatal and infant nutrition in order to reduce stunting.  However, critical gaps remain in health care capacity, existing health systems, and community networks in areas most affected by under-nutrition.

The joint Government - UN programme on integrated nutrition and food security will target the most disadvantaged ethnic minorities, those living in poverty and seek to reduce inequity gaps with a goal to improve the nutritional status of more than 36 million women of reproductive age and 7.1 million boys and girls under five in Viet Nam.  

Support will focus on high poverty provinces of Lao Cai and Ninh Thuan to gather data and evidence that will inform national policy changes and scale up of sustainable and integrated nutrition and food security models. The programme will also train staff and support capacity development of local institutions, organizations and policy makers responsible for management and implementation of nutrition and food security programmes. The programme priorities are driven by the National Strategies for Nutrition and Food Security with guidance from the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement as Viet Nam joined this global initiative in 2014.  

For further information, please contact Mr. Nguyen Minh Nhat at Nhat.Nguyen@fao.org