DILI – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has partnered with two non-governmental organizations, the Alola Foundation and World Vision, to screen thousands of households for malnutrition in three municipalities of Timor-Leste.
Since December 2015, WFP’s partners have gone house-to-house to check children and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers for malnutrition, visiting a total of 16,931 households in Dili, Oecusse and Covalima. The project is made possible thanks to funding from the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
A total of 1,904 children and 2,431 pregnant or breastfeeding mothers were found to suffer from wasting, a form of malnutrition where a person’s weight is too low for their height.
“This screening is important to detect who is malnourished and where they live, so we can support the Ministry of Health to provide treatment,” said WFP’s Country Director in Timor-Leste, Stephen Kearney. “It’s vital to find malnutrition cases as early as possible, especially for pregnant or breastfeeding women.”
“The first 1,000 days of life, including the nine months before a baby is born, are critical for a child’s physical and mental growth. That’s why WFP provides a special nutritious food – Timor Vita – for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers,” Kearney said.
Timor Vita is a locally-developed food, which includes corn, soya flour and vitamins. Mothers also receive counselling from health staff on the importance of eating proteins and vegetables, as part of the Ministry of Health’s Mother and Child Health and Nutrition Programme.
Along with the screening, 206 community groups have been established to train parents and care-givers on breastfeeding, nutrition for mothers and children, and hygiene and care practices for babies and young children. The leaders of these groups were trained in how to screen children and women for malnutrition, and participated in the initial screening process.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
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