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UNICEF welcomes release of final report on nutrition situation of children

© UNICEF DPR Korea/2012/Truls Brekke

PYONGYANG, 18 March 2013 – UNICEF has welcomed the publication of the final report on a national nutrition survey carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Central Bureau of Statistics in September and October 2012.

The report provides detailed data and analysis on the nutritional status of children and women in the DPR Korea and additional information on specific habits which could undermine or improve their nutritional status.

Among the findings are that, despite improvements in nutritional status, one in four children in DPR Korea is suffering from stunting.  Compared to the results from the MICS 2009, chronic malnutrition (stunting) in children decreased from 32.3% in 2009 to 27.9% in 2012, while acute malnutrition (wasting) also fell slightly from 5.2% to 4% and the prevalence of underweight children was down from 18.8% to 15.5%.

The 2012 National Nutrition Survey also showed that continued progress needs to be made so children have access to more varied foods and sufficient vitamins, minerals and proteins to ensure adequate growth. Diversified food is essential for a child's growth and development. A lack of diversity means that women and children are not getting the nutrients they need to survive and thrive.

The data was collected in September and October 2012 by the Central Bureau of Statistics, in partnership with the national Child Nutrition Institute and the Ministry of Public Health, with technical assistance and oversight provided by UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization.

“The data reveals that concerted action by government, international agencies and donors is making a difference,” said UNICEF Representative Desiree Jongsma. “But far too many children still experience, or are at risk of suffering from the potentially life-long debilitating effects of an inadequate diet.”

The nutrition data is the most reliable seen in recent times for DPRK. UNICEF, WFP and WHO conducted on-site supervision of the data collection in all provinces, and UNICEF was given access to government databases. The results are an excellent snapshot of the nutritional status of children and women in the surveyed provinces, and provide a solid basis to gauge the situation throughout the country.

“The news that malnutrition rates have decreased is encouraging. It gives us hope that programmes are working and that the lives of more children can be improved,” said Jongsma. “However, intensified commitment and sustained cooperation among various sectors, such as health, agriculture and water and sanitation, along with continued international assistance, are essential. Otherwise far too many children will continue to suffer the long term consequences of poor nutrition and poor health.”



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