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Almost 30% of children under 5 in Vanuatu are stunted: Health survey

Twenty-eight per cent of children under 5 years in Vanuatu are stunted, according to a health survey on nutrition in the country.

Introducing the topic at a multi-sector consultation on the policy and strategic plan for Nutrition in Vanuatu for 2016 to 2020 at The Melanesian Hotel in Port Vila last week, Ministry of Health Nutritionist Louisa Tokon gave statistics that pointed to an obvious poor stage of nutrition for children in the country.

She said 4.4% of the 28% of children under 5 with stunting condition, have acute malnutrition.

The survey showed that 32% of the children have iron deficiency resulting in anemia. One good piece of news to come from the survey showing a really good practice was that 73% of infants – 0 to 5 months are exclusively breastfed. However, only 29% of the infants - 6 to 23 months are fed approximately all three meals a day.

There are four strategic interventions under the policy objectives of the Nutrition Strategic Plan 2016 – 2020 that aim to prevent, manage and treat under nourished or malnourished conditions in children including stunting, wasting and underweight.

These are: 1. Exclusive breastfeeding is promoted for the first 6 months of life and continued breastfeeding to 2 years; 2. Mother Baby Friendly Hospital status is achieved and maintained in all provinces; 3. Baby friendly work environments that support breastfeeding mothers are established; and 4. National Breastfeeding policy is revised. Vanuatu Daily Post
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