A Milestone Plan Launched to Improve Maternal and Child Nutrition in Nepal
© UNICEF Nepal/2012/NShrestha
PM Baburam Bhattarai launching the Multi Sector Nutrition Plan
By- Deepa Rai
Kathmandu 20 Sept 2012: There was a historical step taken by Nepal today as many sectors came together in pursuit of a single goal - to reduce under-nutrition.
The Prime Minister, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, launched Nepal’s new Multi-Sector Nutrition Plan (MSNP) 2013–2017 in the capital, together with seven government Ministries, many development partners, including UNICEF and the EU, and civil society representatives.
The Prime Minister expressed his delight at the launch of the Plan and assured all of his utmost commitment to it: “We have envisioned achieving the nutritional well-being of all people in Nepal to contribute towards the socio-economic development of the country. Our mission is to accelerate the reduction in malnutrition, and enhance our children’s brain development and growth.” He added that “the Government of Nepal is highly committed to this Plan, which is a prerequisite for achieving all the MDGs.”
About 41 per cent of Nepali children under-five are suffering from stunting, a measure of chronic under nutrition, among the highest rates in the world. The consequences of acute malnutrition are profound, irreversible and lifelong. It heightens children’s risk of death and damages the brain, ultimately impacting physical and mental development, but also the general health and well-being of a nation. It is estimated that it can impact as much as 10% of lifetime earning among the affected, and cause a reduction of up to 3% of the country’s GDP.
Supporting the highly anticipated Plan, Ms. Hanaa Singer, Unicef Nepal Country Representative, said in her motivational speech: “Malnutrition has been a silent emergency in this country; insidious and pervasive, affecting the health, intellectual capacity and productivity of Nepalis from generation to generation,” she said. “What has impressed us most is the high level of leadership and commitment to uplifting the profile of nutrition in the national development agenda and making it a matter of concern to other sectors such as education, sanitation, agriculture and finance too, who join us today.”
UNICEF has provided the lead technical support to the NPC for this plan, with funding from the European Union (EU), as part of the regional Maternal and Young Child Nutrition Security in Asia project. The Multi-Sector Nutrition Plan focuses its interventions on the first 1,000 days of life. The critical period from conception to a child’s second birthday when young children lose their chance to thrive cognitively and physically if poorly nourished.
The aim of the Plan is to reduce chronic malnutrition by one third over the next 5 years, and within 10 years bring it down to the level that it no longer hampers the human development in the country.
The seven ministries party to the plan are- the Ministry of Health and Population; Agriculture and Development; Education; Urban Development; Federal Affairs and Local Development; Children and Women’s Affairs; and Finance.