TOPICS: Malnutrition prevalence

Nepal is among the ten countries in the world with the highest stunting prevalence, a measure of chronic under-nutrition, and one of the top twenty countries with the largest number of stunted children according to a report in multi-sector nutrition plan.

The Nepal Demographic and Health Survey 2011 (NDHS 2011) found that 41% of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition (stunting), 29% of the children are underweight (low weight for age) and 11% are wasted (thin for their age). Similarly, 18% of women are malnourished.

This is related to low energy intake versus heavy physical workload, inadequate nutrition knowledge, and lack of extra food intake during pregnancy and lactating.

While Nepal has been making gradual progress with the issue of malnutrition, the recent earthquake threatens the past positive movements forward.

UNICEF says in nearly two dozen districts affected by the earthquake, 1.7 million children remain in urgent need of humanitarian aid, with the risk of long-term physical and emotional conditions climbing.

Pregnant and lactating women are another vulnerable group for malnutrition in Nepal post-earthquake.

To combat this persistent disaster, Nepal has adopted several plans and programs with the support of numerous NGOS/INGOS with a vision to uplift the nutritional status, minimize the mortality and morbidity rate of the vulnerable group.

Among several programs to enhance nutritional progress, IMAM (Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition) has been extremely successful in preventing and treating the standing cases of malnutrition in Nepal. IMAM is now being implemented in 24 districts of Nepal.

This approach maximizes impact and coverage by bringing nutrition services closer to the households and reducing opportunity costs to the beneficiaries which combines four modes of care, Improved feeding program, Outpatient therapeutic center (OTC), Stabilizing center(SC) and Targeted supplementary feeding center(TSFC).

Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition (IMAM) is a new programming approach to tackle the issues of acute malnutrition, tested and evaluated by the MOHP (Ministry of Health and Population) and UNICEF during 2009-2011.

IMAM includes the prevention and treatment of severe acute malnutrition by Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).