WFP and Ministry of Health join forces to improve nutrition and health practises in Timor-Leste
DILI, TIMOR-LESTE – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Timor-Leste and the Ministry of Health, with support from the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), held a symposium on Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) to support families to fight high levels of malnutrition in Timor-Leste.
One in two children under the age of five in Timor-Leste are stunted, meaning they are too short for their age and aren’t getting the nutrients they need to grow into healthy adults. “SBCC can be very effective to prevent malnutrition by shaping positive behaviours for improved nutrition and health. Prevention of malnutrition through SBCC can help break the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition”. said Mr. Dageng Liu, WFP Timor-Leste Representative and Country Director “It is crucial to understand what works well for Timor-Leste by sharing our successes to improve families’ nutrition”.
Held on 12 – 13 December, the symposium served as a platform for the Government of Timor-Leste to spearhead enhanced coordination and evidence sharing among partners working on nutrition and health. It offered experts the chance to showcase their work, best practices and innovative approaches to improving nutrition across the country.
The nutritional status of children, adolescents and pregnant and breastfeeding women remains a significant challenge and priority for action in Timor-Leste. “SBCC is a tool that can help the community understand nutrition and be able to look after themselves, while contributing to the health and nutrition of the family”, said Dr. Odete da Silva Viegas, General Director of Health Services of the Ministry of Health.
SBCC is an evidence-based strategy that aims to improve health and nutrition. It consists of a collection of communications activities and tools used to positively influence people’s behaviour. Improving nutrition nearly always requires some level of behaviour change and SBCC can help people make these changes, such as eating more diverse foods and including fortified rice in their diets to boost their intake of micronutrients.
With the valuable support from KOICA, WFP and the Ministry of Health in partnership with UNICEF, UNFPA, TOMAK, Ba Futuru, Alola Foundation, Catalpa International, Marie Stopes International and John Snow, Inc., are focusing on reaching out to all children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and adolescents in the country to ensure better health and nutrition.
“This symposium represents a great example of Government and partners coming together with complementarity and a collaborative approach to make a difference in the nutritional status of the Timorese population” said Mr. Sikhyon Kim, KOICA Country Director for Timor-Leste. “KOICA is proud to be supporting such events, the future calls for increased partnerships to leverage Government efforts to address key nutrition and health issues”.
WFP supports the Ministry of Health promote positive behaviours on nutrition, health, sanitation and care practices as a cornerstone of programs to prevent and treat malnutrition among Timor-Leste’s most vulnerable population groups (children under five, pregnant and breastfeeding women and adolescents) and society at large.
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