Thursday 6 February saw the Government launch of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. The program will aim to combat malnutrition in Burma, where a third of all children under five are stunted in their growth. It will be run in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Health Organisation (WHO), World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF.
SUN is designed to strengthen and fast track the implementation of the current “National Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition” (NPAFN), introduced in 2012 as a crucial element of Burma’s development strategy.
“Myanmar [Burma] has the third highest malnutrition rates across South East Asia after Cambodia and East Timor”, said Mr Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF representative in Rangoon.
“[SUN is] an important step towards ending child malnutrition and better increasing the chances of all Myanmar [Burmese] children reaching their 5th birthdays,” Bainvel continued.
Inadequate food, poor hygiene, lack of access to safe water and limited healthcare services provide the root of malnutrition in Burma, once known as the “rice bowl of Asia”.
SUN, which operates in 46 countries worldwide, has enjoyed success in South East Asian neighbours Laos and Indonesia, who will contribute delegates to a two-and-a-half day implication-strategy seminar that follows the announcement Thursday.
The workshop will focus on enhancing the reach of the NPAFN into nutrition-sensitive sectors such as agriculture and fisheries, with the intention of social and economic improvement. UNICEF says that a 10 percent reduction in stunting could raise primary school completion rates from half of all children to two-thirds.
Dr Krongthong Thimasarn, WHO Acting Representative in Rangoon is equally ambitious: “If all nutrition interventions combined achieved 99 percent coverage, stunting could be dramatically reduced and the lives of some 10,000 Myanmar children could be saved annually,” he said.