Giving children a fair start in life

UNICEF PNG/Chambers/2017

The challenge

Nutrition is vital but was long neglected in Papua New Guinea. The rate of malnutrition (under-nutrition) is unacceptably high and remains a significant underlying factor for illness and deaths particularly for children under five years old.

Almost half of these children are stunted (short for age). The prevalence of stunting and underweight are particularly high in the first two years of life and much higher in rural than urban areas. Malnutrition remains a persistent problem with serious development implications that the country has struggled to tackle over the recent decades.

UNICEF PNG/2018/Bell
A mother reviewing her child's growth chart with the doctor at the Susu Mama Clinic in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province.

The solution

UNICEF supported the Government, non-government partners and key stakeholders, the Government of Papua New Guinea to develop and sign off a new National Nutrition Policy (2016 – 2026) to address malnutrition issues in children through a multi-sectoral approach involving stakeholders at all levels.

Coordinated by the Government, this milestone policy brings together a range of stakeholders including the public sector, institutions, academia, private sector, development partners, civil society, media and communities to deliver optimal nutrition outcomes. UNICEF also supported the Government to join the Global Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, and develop a Strategic Action Plan that is currently being  implemented (2018-2022).

UNICEF PNG/2018/Mepham
A young child eats a healthy serving of nutritious food after his mother attended cooking demonstrations provided by health workers as part of the emergency response that UNICEF supported in the highlands.

Our Nutrition Programme

UNICEF supports the Government to provide improved nutrition and care practices particularly in disadvantaged and marginalised communities. This support includes making available globally standardised therapeutic foods and nutrition supplies to treat and manage children with severe acute malnutrition as well as provide Vitamin A for all eligible children and iodine supplementation for communities that have limited access to table salt and with evidence of cretinism.

To ensure service delivery for nutrition, UNICEF in close partnership with the Government, provides training for health workers to and is also currently reviewing the pre-service curriculum for health worker cadres.