- Every infant and child has the right to good nutrition according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Malnutrition is a major contributor to the global disease burden. More than one third of child deaths worlwide are attributed to undernutrition.
- Poverty is a central cause of undernutrition and undernutrition exacerbates poverty.
- Maternal undernutrition, including chronic energy and micronutrient deficiencies, is prevalent in many regions.
- Short stature and iron deficiency anaemia increase the risk of maternal illness, accounting for at least 20% of maternal mortality and contributing to low birth weight in children.
- Globally, only about 35% of infants 0 to 6 months old are exclusively breastfed, despite evidence of the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding in terms of better child survival, growth and development, reduced risk of cancer in breastfeeding mothers, and reduced costs for the health system.
- It is estimated that exclusive breastfeeding to the age of six months could prevent the deaths of 1.3 million children under the age of five each year.
- Optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices are so critical that they could save the lives of 1.5 million children under 5 every year if implemented on a large scale.
- Few children receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods. In many countries only a third of breastfed infants 6-23 months of age meet the criteria of dietary diversity and feeding frequency that are appropriate for their age.
- Initiation of breastfeeding in the first hour of birth is the first and most vital step towards reducing infant and under 5 mortality, as, if widely implemented, it could help to avoid 22% of deaths in the neonatal period alone (first month of life).
- Hidden hunger is a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in the diet, which are vital to boost inmunity and healthy development. Deficiencies of vitamin A, zinc, iron and iodine are primary public health concerns.
- Vitamin A and zinc deficiencies are the main micronutrients deficiencies in term of burden of disease.
- Iodine and iron deficiencies have a smaller disease burden, partly because of intervention programmes. However, sustained effort is needed to further reduce their burden.
- Good nutrition during pregnancy ensures a healthier baby and should be supported by the supplementation of micronutrients such as iron and folic acid, particularly in populations with high risk of anaemia.
- The nutritional status of Viet Nam's population has steadily improved over the past decade.
- The knowledge and practices of the population with regards to nutrition have significantly improved.
- The malnutrition rate (underweight) of children under the age of 5 has decreased from 31.9% in 2001 to 17.5% in 2010, according to the Nutrition Surveillance Survey and sentinel survey 2010.
- However, Viet Nam still has a high rate of stunting among children under 5 (29.3%,) and a high rate of anaemia among women of reproductive age and among children under 5. particularly in mountainous districts.
- Conversely, obesity in children under 5 is 4.8%, six times higher than in 2000 (Nutrition Surveillance Survey and sentinel survey 2010).
- In order to improve the nutritional status of Viet Namese children and women of reproductive age, WHO in Viet Nam is providing technical assistance in the following key areas:
- Supporting the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Nutrition in their work to develop polices, legislation and standards, including the National Nutrition Strategy 2011-2020, the National Plan of Action for Nutrition 2012-2015, the Infant and Young Child Feeding Action plan 2012-2015 and micronutrient guidelines;
- Assisting the MOH, in collaboration with UNICEF, to review and monitor the International Code for Marketing of breast milk substitutes;
- Strengthening the monitoring systems for the food, health and nutrition status of mothers and children, including updating of nutrition indicators and conducting surveys on nutrition status and anaemia prevalence in target provinces;
- Improving infant and young child feeding practices, including support of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, capacity building to implement the WHO Guidelines on Infant and Young Child Feeding, intensive promotion and advocacy campaigns with a focus on breast-feeding, and community-based breastfeeding communication activities in target provinces;
- Reducing micro-nutrient deficiencies, including deficiencies in iron, folic acid, vitamin A and iodine;
- Improving care and treatment of children with severe malnutrition;
- In collaboration with UNICEF and the FAO, WHO is implementing the Joint Nutrition Programme, financially supported by the Spanish MDG Fund, with activities at central, provincial and district levels.