Country’s food production plan not nutrition-sensitive

The Daily Star  February 26, 2021

Experts say at discussion on nutritional challenges

Staff Correspondent

As the pressing issue of malnutrition casts a shadow over the country’s public health situation, experts suggest the government take necessary measures to ensure nutrition in food.

This, they said, is especially important following the adverse impact of Covid-19 on the country’s economy, which might lead to a rise in the number of stunting and wasting cases in children.

They also underscored the need for co-operation to ensure proper data collection on malnutrition, as Bangladesh lacks sufficient data on the issue.

The prognoses came as part of a discussion titled ‘From Evidence to Action: Future Challenges for Better Nutrition in Bangladesh’ held yesterday at a hotel in the capital. The programme was organised by Helen Keller International (HKI) Bangladesh.

During  his speech, Dr Tahmeed Ahmed, Executive Director of ICDDR,B, said  Bangladesh is doing well in solving stunting and wasting problems in  children under the age of five.

Senior  Policy Advisor of NIPN M Asaduzzaman presented the keynote paper. He said,  though malnutrition is a major problem for Bangladesh, no government  organisation is charged with looking after the issue as a whole.

“Some  organisations only partially look over malnutrition-related issues.  Even the health ministry cannot be held responsible on the matter,” he said.

He added that government policies, specifically in food production, are not nutrition-sensitive and in some  cases lack proper directives on nutrition.

Asaduzzaman suggested  designing projects with a more holistic approach, with particular  emphasis on economic, gender and Behavior Change Communication (BCC).

Kazi  Zebunnessa Begum, Additional Secretary (WH Wing) of the Health Services  Division, said the government is investing large sums in the country’s  nutrition sector with the aim to reduce stunting and wasting.

Note, HKI, in collaboration with Bangladesh Institute of Development  Studies (BIDS),  is implementing the National Information Platform for  Nutrition (NIPN), a project funded by the European Union.

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