Nepal makes significant progress in nutrition of mothers, children at risk: UNICEF

Written By: Saloni Murarka WION
Kathmandu, Nepal Updated: Jan 21, 2022, 06:28 PM(IST)

UNICEF also calls upon the government and partners to improve the health of children in Nepal. (Image credit: unicef.org/Nepal). Photograph:( Others )

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Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets on stunting and wasting is not advancing at the speed, scale or equity required and maybe further derailed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic

Nepal has made significant progress in the nutrition of mothers and children at risk due to inequities and the COVID-19 pandemic, said the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). 

Despite periods of political and economic instability, Nepal achieved globally renowned progress in reducing child stunting and scaling up nutrition services during the Millennium Development Goals era (2002 -2016). 

However, the country still faces considerable nutrition-related challenges. Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets on stunting and wasting is not advancing at the speed, scale or equity required and maybe further derailed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

UNICEF's "Nutrition in Nepal: Three decades of progress for children and women", brings together a set of nine original articles that examine the drivers of success and identify where greater policy and programmatic action is needed to achieve the SDG nutrition targets.

Stunting in children (under the age of two) decreased by 24-percentage points between 1996 (57 per cent) and 2016 (33 per cent). This was due to the increased coverage of health and nutrition services and improvements in household wealth, parental education, and sanitation. 

More women took sufficient iron and folic acid supplements during their pregnancy, with an increase in the percentage from only 6 per cent in 2001 to 71 per cent in 2016. 

“Optimal maternal and child nutrition is the basis for developing a resilient society. The decline in the number of malnourished children, improvements in health facilities and services, and the multisectoral approach used in Nepal over the past three decades are a testament to Nepal government commitment to reducing all forms of malnutrition,” EU Ambassador to Nepal, H.E. Nona Deprez. 

Today, Nepal has a very different policy and programmatic landscape from that at the start of the MDG era, and there are new opportunities and challenges in the quest to achieve the national and global targets on nutrition. 

Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has become a human and socio-economic crisis that threatens to unravel past progress on nutrition.

“The learning from the past 25 years that are incorporated in the supplement of the Maternal and Child Nutrition Journal are invaluable. These will inform and contribute to future improvements within the nutrition programme in Nepal,” said Ms. Elke Wisch, UNICEF Representative to Nepal.

UNICEF also calls upon the government and partners to improve the health of children in Nepal. 

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