EU-UNICEF join forces to support improving Timorese children’s nutritional status
Dili, 13 March 2014 – The European Union and UNICEF signed the European Union Contribution Agreement of Euro 4.2 million for Timor-Leste’s Integrated Nutrition Project today.
The Minister of Health, who witnessed the signing, endorsed the project which will help his ministry deliver quality nutrition services and shall help strengthen the systems and capacity of the Ministry of Health’s network of service providers.The contribution will support the three-year project that will scale up high impact nutrition interventions for children in the three districts of Ainaro, Bobonaro and Ermera.
As part of the Ministry of Health’s strategy, the project will support the Ministry of Health’s promotion of breastfeeding and improving parents’ complementary feeding and caring practices of children below 5 years of age. The project will provide supplementary micronutrients and focus on treating severely malnourished children.
Parents will also be encouraged to adopt sanitary-related practices such as washing of hands and using sanitary toilets to prevent diarrhoea of children.Studies have shown, that to improve the nutritional status of children, it is not only enough to focus on children’s micronutrient supplementation and food intake, but efforts must also address children’s access to safe water, clean sanitation and appropriate hygiene practices to prevent diarrhoea.
The EU-UNICEF Agreement, signed by EU Ambassador Sylvie Tabesse and UNICEF Country Representative Hongwei Gao, is part of the European Union’s package of support to Timor-Leste on nutrition which was formalized in a ceremony between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and the EU Ambassador on the 28th of February.
The Ministry of Health has indicated that stunting among Timorese children under 5 years of age has improved from 58.1 to 51.9 percent but has stressed that malnutrition has to be seriously addressed. The three selected districts show the highest percentage of malnourished children in Timor-Leste.