Despite several efforts, the situation of malnutrition in Nepal is alarming. According to NDHS 2011 41% of under five year olds are stunted, 29% are underweight and 11% are wasted indicating early chronic malnutrition. Malnutrition reduces a child’s survival chances, causes permanent impairment of physical development, and perpetuates poverty by reducing achievement in school and future earnings. The process of stunting occurs between conception to two years of age and is an irreversible process. Furthermore the population of Nepal especially women and children are affected by major micronutrients deficiencies.
Malnutrition increases the risk of mortality in the early stages of infancy and childhood, impairs cognitive function of those who survive and hinders efforts to enhance national, social and economic development goals and the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 1-6. Poor feeding and care practices, insufficient nutrient intake, high rate of infection and teenage pregnancy are the immediate causes of chronic malnutrition in Nepal.
The Government of Nepal does realize that the issue of malnutrition must be addressed as a priority as it has negative impact on economic development and on the human population. To address the issue the government developed a National Multi-sector Nutrition Plan for improving maternal and child nutrition and reducing chronic malnutrition. The National Multi-sector Nutrition Plan (MSNP) was developed in 2012 jointly with the Ministry of Agriculture and Development, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, Ministry of Health and Population and the Ministry of Urban Development.
This involved a series of consultative meetings involving the National Nutrition and Food Security Steering Committee and Coordination Committee members, government line agencies, technical working groups, sector reference groups, experts and consultants, and representatives from various development partners including donors and civil society organizations.
This Nutrition plan offers a package of a set of focused interventions to attain priority strategic objectives and has been prepared by five government sectors, and is led by the National Planning Commission (NPC), in collaboration with their development partners. It offers a package of activities and interventions with prioritized strategic objectives which, over a period of five years, should contribute to a one third reduction of the current prevalent rates of chronic malnutrition. This will enable the country to significantly reduce this problem within the next ten years and ensure that malnutrition no longer becomes an impediment to improving Nepal's human and socio-economic development.
At a time when Nepal has been passing through a severe problems related to malnutrition, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Development (MoAD), Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Ministry of Federal Affairs & Local Development (MoFALD) and Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW) came together at a day’s workshop.
According to a press release of National Planning Commission, officials came together to take stock of the progress on Nutrition and Food Security and identify gaps and challenges and support needed to strengthen the implementation of nutrition and food security interventions. At the workshop the ministries presented their sectoral plans with activities, identified challenges and discussed sectoral logical framework of the Multi-sector Nutrition Plan Management Information Systems (MIS), its limitation and opportunities for cross-sectoral utilisation for planning.
“Healthy and well-nourished people can contribute in the overall economic growth of the country. This workshop will help strengthen the multi-sector approach towards tackling the problem of malnutrition and food insecurity”, said Dr Rabindra Kumar Shakya, Vice Chairman, National Planning Commission, at the inaugural session of the ‘Nutrition and Food Security Review and MIS Workshop’ organised by the National Planning Commission Secretariat and supported by the UN REACH Initiative.
“Nutrition and food security is one of the high priority agenda for the government for national development and media can play a significant role to further strengthen our concerted efforts” he added.