UNICEF: Win for Bangladesh as Vitamin A campaign reaches 20.8 million children

23 December 2020
A health volunteer gives a child a polio vaccine.
UNICEF/UN0353782/Paul
Children are receiving Vitamin A plus supplements under the National Vitamin A plus campaign (NVAC+).

DHAKA, 23 December 2020: The National Vitamin A plus campaign has reached 20.8 million children aged between 6 months and 5 years with the important immunity boosting supplement. The two-week campaign, which took place in October, reached 97 per cent of the target, despite the challenges presented by COVID-19. The campaign coverage was officially verified and released by the Directorate General of Health Services, National Nutrition Services and Institute of Public Health Nutrition on 14 December 2020.

“This is a very important win for children in Bangladesh. The campaign was adapted to ensure safety for health workers, children and parents while achieving remarkable coverage,” said Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh.

The Vitamin A campaign was conducted by the Government of Bangladesh with support from UNICEF, which helped develop guidelines and communications materials to ensure a safe roll-out in the context of COVID-19. In addition, UNICEF provided 360,000 masks for health workers and volunteers.

This year’s campaign was held over 12 days instead of the usual one-day campaign to avoid large gatherings. Over 120,000 distribution centres supported the campaign, with health workers and volunteers ensuring infection prevention control practices, including appropriate mask use, physical distancing and handwashing facilities for parents and children.

The Government has institutionalised real-time monitoring and reporting for the National Vitamin A Plus Campaign using mobile phones to report campaign operations. Over 1,450 monitors visited 14,000 distribution centres during the campaign to track coverage against targets, analysing and sharing key findings on a daily basis. The information was used to instantly address challenges and improve coverage. If one health centre faced supply shortages, the required supplies were dispatched immediately from the nearest facility.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact lives and livelihoods, threatening national progress on reducing malnutrition over the last two decades, with children under five and women of reproductive age most at risk. Vitamin A is critical to strengthening children’s immune system and reducing susceptibility to infections.

“UNICEF is committed to supporting the Government of Bangladesh to ensure that parents can continue to receive nutrition services for their children. We must take robust action to ensure that hard-won development gains are not undone and that no child is left behind,” Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh.

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Notes for editors

  • The National Vitamin-A plus campaign (NVAC+) was held from 4 to 17 October 2020.
  • The Government of Bangladesh usually holds two National Vitamin A Campaigns each year. This year, the first campaign was held in January while the second campaign was postponed from July until October 2020 due to COVID-19. 
  • Bangladesh has made significant progress on malnutrition in recent years, reducing child stunting from 41 per cent to 31 per cent between 2011 and 2018.
  • The findings from the Realtime Monitoring and Reporting were shared daily through an online dashboard available at the following link.

 

Media contacts

Faria Selim
UNICEF Bangladesh
Tel: +8809604107077

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