Nutritional status of women and children in Somalia is improving but more needs to be done, says an UN-backed survey released in Mogadishu on Tuesday.
The Micronutrient Survey launched by Somalia’s Ministry of Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says nutrition status of women and children has improved during the past decade, noting that nine in ten infants are breastfed and the prevalence of both stunting and wasting has decreased.
Fawziya Abikar, the health minister, said completing the micronutrient survey is an accomplishment that we should all be proud of.
“It shows our unwavering commitment to the women and children of Somalia. But while we celebrate the good progress, let us remember that the fight against malnutrition in Somalia is not yet over,” Abikar said in a joint statement issued after the launch.
According to the survey, good nutrition is still out of reach for millions of Somali children under the age of five.
It says while many babies are breastfed, only a third of them are exclusively breastfed for six months, placing the babies at greater risk of diarrhea and malnutrition.
UNICEF Somalia Representative Werner Schultink said the micronutrient survey has provided them with invaluable data on the nutritional status of Somali women and children.
“The results of this study will help chart the way forward so that we can invest in long-term and effective strategies to ensure children can reach their full potential,” Schultink said.
According to the survey, almost one in five children show signs of chronic malnutrition and one in ten are acutely malnourished.
The survey calls for interventions to improve women’s nutrition before and during pregnancy, actions to support breastfeeding from the first hour of life, interventions to improve infant and young child feeding practices to increase dietary diversity and improve vitamin and minerals intake, and programs to provide nutrition supplements, information and food.