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Cutting edge National Nutrition Investment Plan to keep thousands of Uzbek women and children healthy and productive

© UNICEF / Uzbekistan 2009
An Uzbek boy in the Tashkent region.

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - 10 March 2009

The Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan recently signed off a landmark nutrition investment plan (NIP) that will see malnutrition and other malnutrition related diseases drop and health and productivity rise. UNICEF and the World Bank supported the programmes development and will support its implementation.

"Healthy people make a healthy nation. This is a major investment in our people and clearly demonstrates the Government’s commitment to their wellbeing. The NIP is the first comprehensive plan to meet the nutritional needs of the most vulnerable in the CIS" said Mr. R. Kasymov, Deputy Prime Minister of Republic of Uzbekistan, on behalf of the Cabinet of Ministers.

The approach is unique in that it’s based on a range of proven successes and brings them together into one larger package. The Government, the private sector, community groups and the media will work together get key nutrients and key messages out to the most needy. The programme is being led by the Cabinet of Ministers, with a steering committee chaired by a Government leading specialist, Tanzilya Norbeava.

Over three years NIP will support primary healthcare staff efforts to help women and children meet their nutritional needs. Micronutrient supplements will be delivered through existing public health services.

The NIP package will support private businesses fortify staple foods with key nutrients. Salt fortified with iodine will virtually wipe out damaging Iodine Deficiency Disorder in Uzbekistan. Flour fortified with multivitamins and iron will cut rates of some serious birth defects by half and reduce anemia in women and children by nearly a quarter. Cotton oil fortified with Vitamin A will reduces vitamin A deficiency and exclusive breastfeeding protects against a range of illnesses.

National media and community organizations have key roles to play in promoting healthy eating, exclusive breastfeeding and raising awareness on the necessity of good micronutrient consumption among families.

‘The NIP goes a long way in meeting children and women’s basic rights. Every child has the right to the nutrients they need to survive, thrive and develop their full potential.’ Said Mahboob Shareef, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan

Preliminary studies indicate significant funds will be saved through reduced healthcare costs over the next six years as a direct result of the NIP.

‘Today’s children will be tomorrow’s healthier adults. Our cost benefit analysis shows that the higher productivity and increasing wages of these adults will total up to $274 million, that means 25US$ will be returned on every dollar invested in the NIP.’ Said Loup Brefort, World Bank country Director in Uzbekistan.

People and nutrition in Uzbekistan

The populations’ nutrition status has improved dramatically over the past five years. Yet a range of nutrition indicators continue to show that over half of Uzbek women and children suffer malnutrition and associated health threats. Malnutrition is responsible approximately 1/3rd of deaths of children under 5 years of age and burdens the national economy with about $1 billion a year in excess health care costs.

The NIP will protect the gains of the past 5 years as well as promises significant additional improvements in population-wide nutrition status.

For further information, please contact:

Dr Mahdi. Ali Mohammed, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist 
E-mail:  / Mobile: +998 93 387 39 12

Matthew Taylor, UNICEF Communication Specialist.
E-mail: / Mobile: +998 93 399 0558

Matluba Mukhamedova, Communications Officer, World Bank in Uzbekistan
Tel: +998 (71) 2385950 or +998 (71) 2385951 / 52



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