UNICEF Bangladesh - Our work - Nutrition

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© UNICEF Bangladesh/2008/Kiron
A boy receives the vitamin A supplement on National Immunization Day in Sirajgonj, Rajshahi division.

Because maternal and child nutrition are inextricable linked, UNICEF seeks to improve nutrition across the entire lifecycle – from infancy, through childhood, adolescence, and the child-bearing years.

Vitamin A
UNICEF works with the Government to deliver vitamin A supplements to all children between the ages of one and five. Vitamin A boosts the immune system, strengthening resistance to diarrhoea, acute respiratory infection, measles and other childhood diseases.

Children receive the supplement twice a year through a nationwide immunization campaign or when they visit health clinics and outreach centres for their childhood vaccinations. 91 per cent of children under the age of five have now received vitamin A supplements.  UNICEF also supports vitamin A fortification of cooking oil.

Deworming and nutrition advice
Vaccination campaigns provide a platform to deliver other nutritional services, including deworming, and the promotion of breastfeeding and sound eating habits. Further advice on infant and child feeding is available at public health facilities where UNICEF trains staff in nutrition counselling.

© UNICEF Bangladesh/2006/Naser Siddique
A health worker explains the importance of a varied diet to women in Rangpur, Rajshahi division.

Salt iodization
For two decades, UNICEF has supported salt-iodization as means of preventing iodine deficiency disorders. Iodine deficiency causes goiter, birth defects, deafness and paralysis, and hampers children’s mental and physical development. Although 84 per cent of households now consume iodized salt (up from 70 per cent in 2004), the quality of the salt is often unreliable.  UNICEF’s current programme provides monitoring and technical assistance to salt manufacturers to ensure proper iodization and works to increase public awareness of the importance of consuming adequately iodized salt.

Preventing anaemia
To address high levels of anaemia among pre-school children, adolescent girls and mothers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and selected low-income areas, UNICEF works to encourage families to eat foods rich in iron and folic acid. The programme also provides flavourless powders of iron, folic acid and other micronutrients that can be sprinkled over meals.  Adolescents in the community receive deworming and iron folate tablets.

Emergency nutrition
Because good nutrition depends on robust food security, UNICEF provides emergency food supplements to women and children during floods and other emergencies that compromise food production and supply.

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