Good nutrition is the bedrock of child survival, health and development. Well-nourished children are better able to grow and learn, to participate in and contribute to their communities, and be resilient in the face of disease, disasters, and other global crises. But for the millions of children suffering from malnutrition, reality is stark. For millions more, this chronic malnutrition will result in stunting – an irreversible condition that literally stunts the physical and cognitive growth of children.
The good news is that we can change this and Nepal has made some big changes in the past two decades.
- Child undernutrition rates substantially declined over the past two decades. The prevalence of stunting (short height for age) among children under five decreased from 57 per cent in 1996 to 36 per cent in 2016. During the same period, the prevalence of underweight (low weight for age) reduced from 42 per cent to 27 percent and child wasting (low weight for height) from 15 per cent to 10 per cent.
- 95 per cent of children live in households that consume iodized salt.
- Vitamin A prophylaxis coverage for children aged 6 to 59 months stands at 86 per cent.
- Nepal was recognized as an “early riser” by the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement for successful nutrition programme.
But, we still need to make progress as:
- the current stunting rate is still unacceptably high.
- 10 per cent of children under five years of age are wasted (low weight for height).
- 66 per cent of children aged 0-5 months are exclusively breastfed.
- Only 47 per cent children aged 6-23 months are receiving diversified diets and 36 per cent of them receive a minimum acceptable diet.
53 per cent of children under five and 69 percent of children aged 6-23 months are suffering from anaemia. Similarly, 44 per cent of adolescent girls, 46 per cent of pregnant women and 41 per cent of women of reproductive age are suffering from anaemia.