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Myanmar Pledges Stronger Combat against Child Malnutrition

Government of Myanmar signs Membership Letter to join the Global Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) movement

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar, 15 May 2013 - The Government of Myanmar reinforces its commitment in the fight against child malnutrition by signing the Membership Letter to join the global Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) movement countries.

The letter was signed by Dr. Pe Thet Khin, Union Minister of Ministry of Health at a Signing ceremony held at the Ministry of Health in Naypyitaw.  It is the first official step to accelerate SUN movement in Myanmar. Myanmar’s joining the SUN initiative will be integrated with the country’s National Plan of Action in Food and Nutrition.

“An individual’s nutrition status, whether malnourished or well-nourished, is not only limited to his or her health status.  It also impacts the country’s economy and education,” said Dr Pe Thet Khin, Union Minister of Health in his address, “In its efforts to achieve MDGs such as poverty alleviation, reducing maternal and child mortality, the Government of Myanmar has increased budget in the health sector, along with basic infrastructure for nutrition.  Further, there is a strong need to join efforts between local and international agencies and more investments in improving and scaling up nutrition activities,” added the minister.

UNICEF Myanmar Representative Mr. Bertrand Bainvel received the signed Membership Letter on behalf of on behalf of the partnership involving UN agencies including FAO, WFP, WHO and UNICEF.  International NGOs involved in the SUN initiative are: Save the Children, Action Contre La Faim (ACF) and Hellen Keller International.

Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) is a global movement for action and investment to improve maternal and child nutrition, launched in 2010 and endorsed by the UN Secretary General. The UNICEF Executive Director Mr. Anthony Lake is the global chair of the initiative.

In Myanmar, an estimated 2.5 million (35.1 per cent) of children under five are stunted as a resulted of long term malnutrition and 8 per cent are wasted as a result of acute malnutrition.

UNICEF Representative Bertrand Bainvel said, “By joining the SUN initiative it is hoped that Myanmar will accelerate efforts in increasing child nutrition – one of the MDGs for which progress is deemed insufficient.”

The SUN is a crucial precondition to achieving the goals of eradicating poverty and hunger, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating disease - which all contribute to a stronger future for communities and nations.

Tackling under nutrition in Myanmar must be a priority because of its critical role in long-term poverty alleviation and economic growth. Reducing under nutrition is the backbone of the poverty alleviation strategy recently launched by the H. E. President Thein Sein, the President of the Republic of Union of Myanmar.

Myanmar’s steps to join the initiative began when the Government of Myanmar representatives attended the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) meeting with UNICEF in Colombo in 2011. It was followed up by the series of meetings and workshops conducted by Myanmar Nutrition Technical Network, which was co-chaired by UNICEF and National Nutrition Center of Ministry of Health.

Three working groups; Advocacy, Resource Mobilization and Action groups were formed to support the Government to initiate SUN movement in Myanmar and to follow six recommended actions of global SUN network at the country level.

Six recommended actions to be undertaken by the Governments of a SUN country are:

  1. Indicating their commitment to SUN through a formal letter from a High Level official;
  2. Government focal point with responsibility for working across ministries to encourage national efforts and to coordinate any external support that is requested;
  3. Identifying a donor convener prepared to convene and coordinate with other donors to align their assistance behind national plans;
  4. Developing or revising national policies, strategies and plans of action that focus on, or incorporate nutrition;
  5. Strengthening existing multi-stakeholder platforms to encourage synergy between stakeholders and across sectors;
  6. Initiating nutrition stock-taking and gap analyses exercises.

In addition to the Union Minister of Health, the signing ceremony was attended by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Deputy Minister of livestock and fisheries, senior Government officials from different Ministries, officials from UNICEF, WHO, WFP, FAO and international and local NGOs and donors.

Under-nutrition in children has largely irreversible long term effects on health and on cognitive and physical development impacting on families and communities, affecting the future capital and human resources of Myanmar.

Success in addressing under nutrition is essential to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), receiving new large investments from donors. It is time to take that commitment forward and scale up the efforts by embracing the SUN framework.

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About UNICEF

UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

For more information, please contact:

Zafrin Chowdhury, Chief- Programme Communication and Information Section, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: +95-1-375527-32, zchowdhury@unicef.org


 

 

 

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