Good nutrition is essential for child survival, health and development. Well-nourished children are better able to grow and learn, to participate and contribute to their communities and be resilient in the face of disease and disasters. While Viet Nam has made dramatic progress in reducing its rate of malnutrition in recent decades, an unfinished agenda remains.
‘Stunting’ or chronic malnutrition remains a key concern, as Viet Nam is among 34 countries globally facing the highest burden. It is home to 1.8 million children under-5 who suffer from the condition and are at risk of permanent physical and brain damage.
Children from the poorest households are three times more likely to suffer from stunting than those from wealthier households, with the predominantly ethnic minority-populated Central Highlands and Northern Midlands and Mountainous regions hardest hit. Of these ethnic minority groups, the H’mong people have the highest prevalence (65 per cent).
Micronutrient deficiencies remain prevalent, with nutrition anaemia among children under-5 sitting at 28 and 31 per cent in these mountainous regions home to ethnic minorities, while 32 per cent of pregnant women are classified as anaemic. Just a quarter of children aged less than six months are exclusively breastfed and 59 per cent benefit from diets sufficient in diversity and frequency as per complementary feeding.