YANGON, 14 February 2020 – Today, the National Nutrition Centre of the Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health and Sports and UNICEF presented Frameworks of Action for Complementary Feeding and Maternal Nutrition at an event that included participants from several ministries including the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and Ministry of Education, as well as nutrition development partners in Myanmar.
The Frameworks of Action are a result of renewed regional efforts made in six ASEAN countries, including Cambodia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Myanmar to improve both child complementary feeding and maternal nutrition in the effort to address the triple burden of malnutrition, which includes undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and overweight and obesity. In each of the six countries, a comprehensive landscape exercise was conducted, including the review of key global, regional and country level findings to assess the current situation of children’s diet and maternal nutrition and identify relevant policy and programmatic opportunities. The analysis also included UNICEF’s recent flagship report, the 2019 State of the World’s Children (SOWC) which focuses on nutrition.
The SOWC Report and Myanmar’s landscaping exercise on maternal nutrition and complementary feeding show that poor eating and feeding practices start from the very beginning. Two in five pregnant women (40 per cent) and one in three (30 per cent) of reproductive age women in Myanmar have iron deficiency anaemia, and anaemia during pregnancy can lead to premature birth and low-birth. In addition, only half of children under six months of age in Myanmar are exclusively breastfed– a practice that is protective against malnutrition and poor health, and 39 per cent of those children are introduced to complementary foods too early.
“While the country has done a lot to improve nutrition over the past decade, as seen in the reduction of childhood stunting from 35 per cent in 2009 to 27 per cent in 2017, more can be done particularly in improving the nutrition of pregnant women and the diets that young children consume. Additional focus in these areas will help us to achieve further sustained reductions in malnutrition”, said Dr. Lwin Mar Hlaing, Acting Director of the National Nutrition Centre.
The findings demonstrate the need for continued commitment to address all forms of malnutrition in Myanmar and how to best implement recommended actions through the Government’s Multi-Sectoral Plan of Action for Nutrition (MS-NPAN) which serves as common result framework for nutrition in Myanmar. Key recommended actions include:
- Develop a strong advocacy and mass communication strategy to support behaviours to improve complementary feeding and maternal nutrition
- Update and strengthen guidelines and monitoring of complementary feeding
- Strengthen controls on the marketing of unhealthy foods to children by focusing on legislation, regulation and enforcement, of the food and beverage industry
- Promote policies and initiatives to increase access and utilization of diversified foods and strengthen controls on the marketing of unhealthy foods.
“We call for committed action from all stakeholders to support the efforts of the Government specifically in strengthening children’s diet and maternal nutrition, which are key to ensuring better quality and rights-based health and nutrition for all people in Myanmar and achievement of the targets for SDG-2”, said June Kunugi, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar.
Note for editors
Poor complementary feeding practices during the first two years of life, and a mother’s nutrition during pregnancy are significant contributors to child malnutrition. Despite improvements in breastfeeding rates over the past decade, evidence shows that child diets in Myanmar are not adequate for optimal child nutrition – with just 21 per cent consuming food from 4 or more good groups and 43 per cent not fed frequently enough – this means nearly 80 per cent of children under the age of two do not consume an adequate diet.
Poor maternal nutrition is driven by inadequate dietary diversity and food consumption during pregnancy, young age at first birth, high rates of anaemia among adolescents and women of reproductive age, the high cost of a healthy diet, and limited understanding of the role of nutrition during pregnancy. According to the Myanmar Micronutrient and Food Consumption Survey (MMFCS 2017-2018), among 6-59 months children: 27 per cent are stunted, 7 per cent are wasted, 36 per cent are anaemic; and 30 per cent of women aged 15-49 are overweight or obese.
Browse the special interactive feature on State of the World’s Children on our website or download the report here.
For more information, please contact:
Dr Lwin Mar Hlaing, Acting Director, National Nutrition Centre, Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health and Sports, Tel: 067 431 258, 067 431 259, Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
UNICEF in Myanmar
UNICEF has been working with the Government and the people of Myanmar since 1950. In partnership with the Government and the civil society, UNICEF’s current focus of work aims at reducing child mortality, improving access and quality of education and protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation.
For more information about UNICEF and its work in Myanmar: