Good nutrition is a basic child right. However more than two out of five children under five living in Mozambique suffer from chronic under-nutrition, the state of being poorly nourished (click here for a summary on nutrition situation in Mozambique).
Under nutrition is not merely a result of too little food, but of a combination of factors: insufficient protein, energy and micronutrients, frequent infections or disease, poor care and feeding practices, inadequate health services and unsafe water and sanitation.
Malnutrition during childhood has a lasting effect on children’s chance of survival and development. In Mozambique, as estimated 45% of deaths among children under-five is linked to malnutrition. A malnourished child is also less likely to perform well at school and more susceptible to infections including suffering from chronic diseases when adult. On the other hand, it is estimated that well-nourished children contribute to wealth by boosting the national GDP to up to 11%.
Malnutrition has also an impact on the overall society and economic growth of a country. Every year an estimated 16 billion MZN of GDP (as of July 2015 this would be equivalent to more than US$416billion) is lost in Mozambique due to malnutrition because of loss of productivity.
What we are doing
Through support to government and civil society, UNICEF is increasing its commitment to reach the poorest and most vulnerable children and women in Mozambique so that they can benefit from high impact and the best quality nutrition services as well as be equipped with good knowledge and skills on adequate feeding practices.
UNICEF is working in collaboration with other sector such as health, water and sanitation, agriculture and education to tackle all the immediate causes of under-nutrition.
The way forward
Treating acutely malnourished children
To address acute malnutrition found in children living in the most vulnerable areas of Mozambique, UNICEF will support the nutrition rehabilitation and treatment program to help save the lives of 253,163 acutely malnourished children annually.
Scaling-up nutrition services in health facilities
UNICEF is supporting health services across the country to deliver nutrition services such as micronutrient supplementation, deworming, infant and young child feeding counselling and support. The aim is to prevent children from becoming malnourished at different stages of their life cycle.
Support is also being provided to the Ministry of Health in three main areas: supporting the scale-up of quality nutrition services in health facilities; promoting infant and young child feeding in communities; and expanding selective feeding interventions for malnourished children.
Community-based nutrition interventions
A range of community-based nutrition activities, including the promotion of good nutrition practices among households and caretakers are being implemented to promote correct infant and young child feeding practices.
The activities include reaching out to about 380,000 children annually for vitamin A supplementation, screening of malnourished children through National Health Week and nutrition education and breastfeeding promotion through community health workers.
Communication and social mobilisation activities on nutrition are important aspects of this community approach, focusing on the empowerment of mothers, families, communities and service providers to reinforce positive behaviours.
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By Cate Heinrich.
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