Battling malnutrition amidst COVID-19

In Nepal’s south and west, UNICEF is supporting the government in resuming provision of nutrition supplies essential to prevent and treat malnutrition in young children

UNICEF Nepal
UNICEF staff at the airport in Nepalgunj in Banke District loading nutrition supplies onto an aircraft headed to remote Humla District, lying at an altitude of 9,500 feet above sea level.
UNICEF Nepal/2020
06 May 2020

Dhanusha and Banke, Nepal: To ensure that children suffering from malnutrition are not deprived of the life-saving treatment they need at this time of crisis, UNICEF is supporting the Government of Nepal in dispatching critical nutrition supplies to health facilities in different parts of the country.

“Children who had previously been identified and were being treated for severe acute malnutrition are at risk of deterioration if their treatment can not continue,” explains Sumi Maskey, UNICEF Nutrition Officer.

Nutrition supplies provided by UNICEF being received by the Samsi out-patient therapeutic center in Mahottari District Nepal’s south.
UNICEF Nepal/2020
Nutrition supplies provided by UNICEF being received by the Samsi out-patient therapeutic center in Mahottari District Nepal’s south.

To prevent this, and based on an assessment of existing stocks at the local and provincial levels, UNICEF recently provided the Province 2 government with 710 cartons of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) and 40 cartons of multiple micronutrient powder (MNP). Another 30 cartons of RUTF were also recently dispatched to remote Humla District in Karnali Province in Nepal’s west. This latter delivery was undertaken via air cargo, given that Humla – located at 9,500 feet above sea level – is not fully accessible by road.

A full course of RUTF is vital to the recovery of young children with severe acute malnutrition, while MNP is used to fortify diets to meet children’s nutrient needs and improve their health.

Nutrition supplies provided by UNICEF being received by Prem Singh, chief of the Health Service Office (second from right), and Binita Bhattarai (far right) the Chief District Officer at the Simikot Airport in Humla District.
UNICEF Nepal/2020
Nutrition supplies provided by UNICEF being received by Prem Singh, chief of the Health Service Office (second from right), and Binita Bhattarai (far right) the Chief District Officer at the Simikot Airport in Humla District.

UNICEF delivered these supplies to the respective Provincial Health Logistics Management Centers in Janakpur in Dhanusha District in the south, and Nepalgunj in Banke District in the west.

From these points, further support was given to the government to transport the materials to 136 out-patient therapeutic centres by road across Province 2 and via air to Simikot Airport in Humla. This will allow health workers in these different facilities to provide treatment to children who need them the most.

"This is a district that is already grappling with various nutrition and health-related challenges, and we were facing a worrying shortage of RUTF since the lockdown started,” says Prem Singh, chief of the Health Service Office in Humla. “The new supply will help ease the pressure on health facilities and make sure that this crisis does not worsen the condition of children suffering from malnutrition.”


Compiled with input from UNICEF field offices in Janakpur and Nepalgunj