Anti-malnutrition campaign begins

The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) will begin, on Oct. 16, a week-long appeal to inform families about nutrition, in the hopes of further reducing malnutrition.

NIN's Nutrition and Development Week is an annual event to increase people's awareness about issues of malnutrition through efforts to educate the public.

This year, Nutrition and Development Week has the slogan, "Try your best to ensure proper nutrition for all families, especially those living in low-income areas."

Professor Le Thi Hop, deputy director of NIN, says that malnutrition among under-five children still occurs at alarming rates , hovering around 30 percent, leading to underweight children with stunted growth. Malnutrition rates are particularly high among children under five living in mountainous and central highland areas.

According to NIN statistics, the national malnutrition rate has dropped from 26.6 percent in 2004 to 25.5 percent in 2005, an improvement due in part to the success of malnutrition prevention programmes. In spite of these achievements, malnutrition and resulting micro-nutrient deficiencies remain pervasive problems. o­ne-third of pregnant women suffer from anaemia, around 12.5 percent of children under five have vitamin A deficiencies and 53.8 percent of lactating mothers have low vitamin A content in their breast milk.

In the coming months, NIN's malnutrition prevention programme will focus o­n preventative nutrition programmes for adolescents, pregnant women and school-age children nationwide. NIN also plans to give priority to programmes for children under two and to people living in low-income and remote areas.

The Ministry of Health aims to reduce the rate of underweight children under five to under 20 percent and the rate of children with stunted growth to under 25 percent by 2010./.