Viet Nam is facing challenges in its annual goals to reduce the rate of malnutrition among children under five years old from 30 per cent to 2 per cent by the year 2020.
Nutritionists met in Ha Noi yesterday and said the target - which is a crucial element to improving the height of Vietnamese people - would be hard to reach in the next decade despite the good results that have already been achieved.
Ministry of Health statistics show that the rate of malnutrition, which leads to stunted growth, fell from nearly 60 per cent in 1985 to 47 per cent in 1994 and 31.9 in 2009.
The percentage of children under five who are underweight due to malnutrition reduced from 51.5 per cent in 1985 to 18.9 per cent in 2009. Studies have shown an average height increase of 1-2 centimetres in Vietnamese children and adults in recent decades, according to the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN). "By analysing factors that contribute to malnutrition in children, we can reduce the current numbers. However, the speed of reduction will be slower than the rate in the 90s," said Deputy Director of NIN Le Danh Tuyen.
Mothers needed to get proper nutrition prior and throughout their pregnancies, he said. They also needed to provide their growing children with proper nutrition, especially before they reach the age of five as children under five need sufficient energy and nutrition to grow properly.
"In order to firmly reduce stunted growth due to malnutrition, comprehensive improvement in providing food to families, health care services and environmental and care taking activities are needed. Emphasis has been put on caring for the quality of nutrition, particularly at the family level," said Tuyen.
Malnutrition prevention activities should be socialised in all corners of the country with a specific policy designed for each region. Areas that are threatened by the risk of food insecurity should develop measures to ensure sustained provision of food. Production activities and self-sustaining food production are encouraged along with a strengthening of nutrition communication activities. — VNS