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* Child malnutrition is a significant challenge in Sri Lanka
Wed, Jun 9, 2010, 12:03 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jun 09, Colombo: A report of a Nutrition and Food Security Survey conducted jointly by Sri Lanka's Ministry of Health, UNICEF and World Food Programme (WFP) says that malnutrition among women and children in Sri Lanka is a serious challenge in achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The survey is the first of such studies to assess the underlying causes of malnutrition in Sri Lanka and the related impact of the increase in global food prices. It revealed that there are significant disparities between different regions of the country.

Incidence of stunting and underweight was higher in rural areas such as the estate sector and Hambantota, while wasting (acute malnutrition) was found to be higher in urban areas including Colombo.

Lunching the event yesterday the UNICEF Representative in Sri Lanka, Phillipe Duamelle said that the survey highlights the importance of targeted food and nutrition interventions to reach those most at risk of malnutrition, especially women and children.

The release of the Nutrition and Food Security Survey, carried out by the Medical Research Institute (MRI) with funding from UNICEF and WFP, coincided with the launch of the National Nutrition Month yesterday.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Health also yesterday released the 'National Nutrition Policy' which is aimed at eliminating weaknesses in the food framework and formulating ways to raise awareness among the public on nutritional food.

According to the UNICEF report While Sri Lanka is largely on track to attaining most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), significant challenges relating to poverty and child malnutrition remain including socio-economic and regional disparities, and the quality of public health care.

Addressing the gathering at the launch the WFP Representative for Sri Lanka, Adnan Khan said "effective joint nutrition interventions are required at all levels in order to reduce the proportion of people suffering from hunger and under-nutrition and achieve the MDGs."

The agencies say by reducing hunger and malnutrition, Sri Lanka will also be able to achieve the MDGs related to child mortality, maternal health, primary education, gender equality, and HIV/AIDS.

Duamelle said now that the war is over, Sri Lanka should step up measures to eliminate the malnutrition in the country.

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