UNICEF works to improve infant and young children's nutrition in Viet Nam, helping ensure every child has the best possible start in life.
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.
Breastfeeding is the best nutritional start for a child to stay alive and thrive.
UNICEF is taking action to help improve infant and young child nutrition across Viet Nam so every child has the best possible nutritional start in life.
We are working with government and development partners to build nutrition capacity, strengthen planning, budgeting, data analysis and management of nutrition programmes at national, district and community levels, with communication messages on nutrition delivered through a variety of channels.
Drawing on our comparative advantages and expertise in nutrition in Viet Nam and globally, key areas of work include infant micronutrient deficiency control, community management of acute malnutrition and the Integrated Early Childhood Development approach in three provinces (Dien Bien, Gia Lai and Kon Tum).
To reach target populations, especially ethnic minorities and urban alongside rural poor, UNICEF is also working to scale-up and encourage co-financing of evidence-based interventions to increase levels of local ownership.
The first 1,000 days from the start of a woman’s pregnancy to a child’s second birthday offer an extraordinary window of opportunity for preventing under-nutrition and its consequences.