Kids to get micronutrients to ward off anaemia

Kathmandu, December 17:

With the objective of decreasing prevalence of anaemia in children, the government is set to introduce free micronutrient supplement powder to children below two years of age from the last week of December.

According to a recent government data, 48 per cent of children below the age of five are anaemic. But the prevalence is 82 per cent among children below 11 months of age and 71 per cent among children between 12 and 23 months.

The micronutrient supplement powder comprising iron, vitamin and other nutrients required for the development of children’s brain will be distributed free of cost to children below two years of age in Makwanpur and Parsa districts from the last week of December as a pilot study.

“Cases of blood deficiency and malnutrition are high among children. The Ministry of Health and Population and the United Nations Children’s Fund have taken a joint initiative to decrease the prevalence of anaemia among children,” said Rajkumar Pokharel, chief of the

Nutrition Section, Child Health Division, MoHP.

The programme will initially be implemented in eight VDCs of the two districts. After six months, it will be scaled up to all VDCs in the districts.

“The government targets to provide the supplement to all 75 districts within five years,” Pokharel said.

The sachet, named Sprinkle Plus, recommended by World Health Organisation and produced under Sprinkles Global Health Initiatives, will be distributed to all children in the VDCs below two years of age.

The government has encouraged exclusive breast feeding for children below six months. Sixty sachets will be provided for children from seven to 11 months, while 120 sachets will be provided for children from 12 to 17 months and 180 sachets for children above 18 months.

Powder from a sachet should be mixed with child’s food before consumption and each child should not be given more than a packet of supplement a day.

“Almost 80 per cent development of human brain takes place within the age of two. But due to deficiency of blood and lack of other nutrients, mental development of Nepali children has not been as it should have been,” Pokharel said.

He added that the nutrient was very essential for cognitive development of children and that the supplement had made drastic changes in nutrition status of children in other countries.