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High-level delegation from the EU Parliament visits UNICEF-supported programmes in Nepal

© UNICEF Nepal/2011
Ms. Jean Lambert, Chair of the European Parliament Delegation to South Asia is briefed on the ongoing UNICEF supported nutrition program by a health facility worker at Motipor village, Rupandehi District in Nepal

                                        

High-level delegation from the EU Parliament visits UNICEF-supported programmes in Nepal

Kathmandu, 12 December 2011:  High-level delegation from the EU Parliament visits UNICEF-supported programmes in Nepal

Kathmandu, 5 December 2011:  A high-level delegation from the EU Parliament visited UNICEF-supported Nutrition and Education programmes during a two-day trip in Nepal last week.

The EU has contributed a grant of €20 million to UNICEF to tackle under-nutrition in five Asian countries, including Nepal, which received €3.2 million from the EU for the period 2010-2014. This funding is supporting a comprehensive package of measures to prevent and address chronic malnutrition in the country where pervasive child and maternal under-nutrition threatens to derail national economic development and growth.
 
UNICEF with EU funding support is working with the Government of Nepal to improve women’s access to essential health and nutrition services during pregnancy and children before the age of two.  The first thousand days of life, that is from conception to two years of age, is the critical window of opportunity, when young children lose their chance to thrive cognitively and physically if poorly nourished.

The EU delegation included Ms. Jean Lambert, Chair of the European Parliament Delegation to South Asia, Sabine Meyer, Political Advisor on Foreign Affairs and Urgent Resolutions and Philippe Kamaris, Administrator, Inter-parliamentary Delegations for Non-European Countries.

 

 

© UNICEF Nepal/2011
Female students attending the madrassa school mainstreamed with the national education system at Kapilvastu district

They met with health facility workers at Motipur village in Rupandehi district at the ongoing UNICEF-supported programme on micronutrient powders integrated with community infant and young child feeding (IYCF/MNPs). Rupandehi is one of the six districts modeling delivery of IYCF/MNPs to children aged 6-24 months.

"We have trained well over 1,500 FCHVs to deliver Baal Vita (MNPs) with counseling on infant feeding, and they have so far reached 30,000 mothers (70% of the total) with young children," said Mr. Maheshwar Shrestha, Chief of the District Public health Office in Rupandehi. “We are very pleased with what we have observed so far, especially as preliminary results of the surveillance data is showing high adherence rates of 87 percent (1 sachet in three days), which is very encouraging.”

The mission members met and spoke with the satisfied mothers and the Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs) who assist in the distribution of the MNPs.  "I was truly impressed to see mothers holding healthy and alert children, and telling us about the changes they noticed in their children after they were administered MNPs," said Ms. Jean Lambert.  "It is clearly working in improving the nutrition status of the children. Even more impressive was to see the energetic dedication of the FCHVs who, despite their busy personal family commitments, have worked extra hard to ensure that the children in their villages were well-nourished."

By September 2011, a total of 10.2 million sachets of MNPs had been distributed to 66,603 children with an average compliance rate of 65%, in the six model districts – including Rupandehi.  Qualitative evidence from the mothers has revealed that they are very happy with the impact of the MNPs on their children's growth.
 
“About 41 per cent of children under five years of age are suffering from chronic malnutrition, with serious and lifelong consequences on the affected children, as well as detrimental effects on the development of their communities and the country as a whole, “ said Ms. Saba Mebrahtu, UNICEF Nepal’s Chief of Nutrition. “More than 35% of child deaths are attributable to under-nutrition.”

Statistics show that children who endure under-nutrition face increased risk of non-communicable diseases; their physical growth, cognitive abilities and behavioural development are impaired; they attend school less and perform more poorly than their well-nourished peers.  By adulthood their capacity to earn a decent livelihood is diminished, while all too often, the cycle can continue when they have children themselves.

The mission also visited the Narul Walum Islamia Primary School in Kapilvastu district. The madrassa school is one of 52 in the district that have been mainstreamed into the Nepal government's education system, and yet survives on the donations of the local Muslim community.  The school teaches the Koran, Arabic and Urdu, as well as the mainstream government curriculum including English, Nepali, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.

The best indication that we did a good thing by mainstreaming is that of the 312 children studying in the school, 70 are non-Muslim," said Mr. Mukhtar Mussalman, the Chief of the School Management Committee.

Concluding their visit to the school, Ms. Jean Lambert said, "We are impressed with the positive feeling of religious and ethnic harmony that we have observed in this school. This is very important in a country, which is in the process of peace and constitution-building."

The trip ended with a reaffirmation of UNICEF’s continued commitment.  “We will work to ensure that the capacity of the government of Nepal is enhanced to deliver evidence-based nutrition interventions to women and children during the first 1,000 days of life to break the cycle of under-nutrition’” said Ms. Mebrahtu.  “The causes of malnutrition are varied and complex - therefore, UNICEF will help strengthen coordination among the key sectors including Health, Agriculture, Education, and Local Development – under the lead of the National Planning Commission, to help develop a multi-sectoral nutrition plan of action. This is critical for sustained and accelerated reduction of chronic malnutrition of children in Nepal.”


For more Information, please contact:

John Brittain, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Nepal: Tel (977) 1 5523 200 x1182: jbrittain@unicef.org

Ambar Mainali, Press & Information Officer, Delegation of the European Union to Nepal: Tel (977) 1 4 429445: Ambar.MAINALI@eeas.europa.eu

 

 

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