Kathmandu, April 2:

The Ministry of Health and Population is expanding the Maternal Neonatal Micro Nutrient Intensification Programme (MNMNIP) to 12 districts this year in a bid to lower the mother and infant morality rate.

Dr Yasovardan Pradhan, director at the Child Health Division (CHD), told this daily that this year MNMNIP would be expanded to 12 districts to check the mortality rate caused due to iron deficiency. Though the government has been providing iron tablets to pregnant mothers free of cost through the Anti-Natal Care clinics the result is not much encouraging, Dr Pradhan said, adding, “It is very difficult to know whether the pregnant women take the full dose.”

Under this (MNMNIP) programme, trained female health volunteers are mobilised for the task, and they can check whether the pregnant women are taking the medicine regularly.

A total of 78 per cent of the children below five years of age, 75 per cent pregnant women and 68 per cent women are anemic, according to the Micronutrient Survey Study, 1998. Ninety per cent children between six and 11 months are in grave situation due to anemia.

Sarada Pandey, chief of the Nutrition Section at the CHD, said that the main objective of the programme was to bring down high maternal and morbidity rate. “Various studies have shown iron deficiency during pregnancy is one of the major reasons behind the high rate of maternal and neonatal mortality,” said Pandey.

The government started the MNMNIP in 2002, and till date 44 districts have been covered.

According to the Nepal Demographic and Health Survey 2001, maternal mortality rate is 539 per 100,000, the under-five mortality rate is 91 per 1000 live births and infant mortality rate is 64 per 1,000 live births.