EU, UNICEF to prevent malnutrition in Nepal


European Union and UNICEF have expanded their partnership on nutrition to prevent malnutrition in children due to the socio-economic impact of the pandemic.

Socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis has pushed many vulnerable families across Nepal into deeper poverty and has resulted in more children becoming malnourished. Female community health volunteers are no longer able to regularly visit families to monitor nutrition and health status of babies, young children and mothers in the COVID-19 physical distancing context. This has also reduced families’ access to health services. According to a joint press release issued by EU and UNICEF, additional EU contribution of 250,000 euros to the existing joint ‘Partnership for Improved Nutrition’ programme will support ‘Family Measurement and Classification of Mid-upper Arm Circumference’ intervention, and empower parents and caretakers to themselves monitor the health of their children.

This will facilitate early detection and referral of children with acute malnutrition to the nearest outpatient therapeutic care centres and nutrition rehabilitation centres while reducing exposure of female community health volunteers and the community to the virus. Existing Multi-Sector Nutrition Plan volunteers, based at all local governments, will facilitate this new intervention and the contribution will also provide essential supplies such as ready-to-use therapeutic food.

“During the last 10 years, the EU has supported the Government of Nepal to combat malnutrition, with tangible results.

However, the COVID-19 crisis is making this battle more difficult.

Through increasing its financial support, the EU wants to send a strong signal to Nepal that the EU is and will be by Nepal’s side to leave malnutrition behind,” said Veronica Cody, EU ambassador to Nepal in the release.

“Across Nepal, the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 crisis is putting children’s lives and their futures in jeopardy as progress made on children’s nutrition in the last decade is at risk of being reversed as rising numbers of children are facing malnutrition due to loss of household income and resulting food insecurity. Social and economic loss for Nepal resulting from the deterioration in children’s nutrition status will be felt long after the COVID-19 crisis is over,” said Elke Wisch, UNICEF representative to Nepal.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 3, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.