Promoting multi-sectoral approaches to nutrition to support development in Papua New Guinea

23 November 2017

 PORT MORESBY, 23 November 2017 – Promoting nutrition specific interventions using a multi-sectoral approach is key to accelerating progress and development for Papua New Guinea, UNICEF said today, following the country’s participation at a recent global Nutrition conference that was held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in early November.

Papua New Guinea, the 57th country to join the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, a global drive led by countries working together to Scale Up Nutrition and end malnutrition in all its forms, was represented at this global gathering by the Departments of Planning and Monitoring, and Health.

“Reversing malnutrition requires the government’s highest political level of commitment and working in a multi-sectoral approach will allow us to build human capital and fuel economic growth for generations to come,” stressed UNICEF.

“The case for investing in nutrition is clear. Poor nutrition during the first 1,000 days – from pregnancy through a child’s second birthday – can cause life-long and irreversible damage, with consequences at the individual, community and national level”, added UNICEF.

According to the Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2009/2010, over 45 percent of children under five years in Papua New Guinea are stunted (short for age) and 14 percent are wasted (thin). This has serious development implications for the country.

“As malnourished children become adults, they are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases and young women may face difficulties in childbirth, including low birth weight babies. These health impacts have consequences for social and economic outcomes. Poorly nourished populations suffer from stunting which affects cognitive development – the functioning of the brain which cannot be repaired and can reduce a nation’s economic advancement due to direct productivity losses,” UNICEF explained.

Papua New Guinea must be commended for working towards engaging a multi-sectoral approach to address the high burden of malnutrition in the country. Coordinated by the Departments of Health and National Planning and Monitoring, critical sectors like Education, Community Development and Agriculture and Livestock collaborated with development partners such as UNICEF, WHO and other stakeholders to finalize the first ever Multi-Sectoral National Nutrition Policy (2016-2026) that will provide an enabling environment to foster common planning, budgeting, implementation and monitoring of nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions, targeted at reversing malnutrition.   

While PNG is not yet on track to meet the global target of reducing stunting to 20 percent, UNICEF commends the Government’s effort in promoting a multi-sectoral engagement to achieve optimal nutrition outcomes for the country.

“We need to do things differently. We need all sectors to join forces to reverse malnutrition. Fighting malnutrition is a noble fight because it results in life long gains such as human capital development for future labour and intellectual productivity. Let us give children a fair start in life,” UNICEF reiterated.

Media contacts

Noreen Chambers
Communication Specialist
Tel: +675 321 3000


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