DHAKA – The Bangladeshi Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) have today entered into a new partnership to address persistently high rates of maternal and child undernutrition in Bangladesh.
“The Government has shown a strong commitment to tackling undernutrition, particularly through its role as an ‘early riser’ under the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement”, said Mr M.M. Neazuddin, Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, after signing the agreement document.
The SUN movement is a global initiative that unites people—from governments, civil society, the United Nations, donors, businesses and researchers—in a collective effort to improve nutrition. With leadership from Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Hasina, the Government of Bangladesh renewed its resolve to address malnutrition, putting policies in place, collaborating with partners to implement programs with shared nutrition goals, and mobilizing resources to effectively scale up nutrition.
“Joint action through partnership is essential to reduce maternal and child undernutrition,” said WFP Representative to Bangladesh Christa Räder. “WFP has a long history of fruitful collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh, dating back to the 1970s. Today, we emphasize our joint commitment to improving the nutrition of women and children, and breaking the intergenerational cycle of undernutrition.”
Under the agreement, WFP will support and implement activities that address undernutrition directly, such as providing specialised nutritious foods to young children and their mothers, and running educational activities to build mothers’ understanding of good hygiene and feeding practices for their children.
Together with the government, WFP will also increasingly pursue nutrition objectives in other development programmes such as school feeding and social safety nets. Part of the partnership will focus on building both institutional and human capacity in government entities delivering nutrition services. Further areas of work will include collaboration on nutrition during emergencies; mitigation of the impact of climate change on nutrition; nutrition education in schools; rice fortification; and the coordination of nutrition activities across different sectors.
The Government of Bangladesh, through its National Nutrition Services (NNS), and WFP’s Nutrition Strategy for Bangladesh both focus on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, from conception to two years of age. During this critical “window of opportunity” it is possible to prevent the detrimental and life-long effects of chronic undernutrition, which can impede the development of children’s brains and bodies.
Focusing on teenage girls and mothers is also key to breaking the intergenerational cycle of undernutrition, since undernourished and young mothers have babies with low birth weight, and often lack the knowledge and means to provide the right food to their infants.
Over the past decade, WFP has worked with the government to pilot, scale up and hand over a range of initiatives to bolster food and nutrition security, including a Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) programme, school meal programmes, and nutrition interventions such as deworming.
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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Last year, WFP reached more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance.
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Christa Räder, Representative, WFP/Bangladesh, Tel. +880-2-9183022-33
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