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November 13, 2019

Understanding causes, approaches key for ending malnutrition in Rakhine

  • In keeping with the idea of ‘health as a bridge for peace’, we must make efforts to provide quality healthcare for people, paying special attention to conflict-ridden areas.
    According to the Myanmar Micronutrient and Food Consumption Survey: 2017-2018, women and children aged under five in Rakhine State are suffering from malnutrition. The survey has called for immediate action, and the Ministry of Health and Sports and local authorities have made joint efforts for tackling poor nutrition in the state. Malnutrition is responsible for more illnesses than any other single factor.
    To tackle malnutrition as well as address some of the underlying issues related to it in households, as part of healthcare activities, we must take into consideration social conflicts, instability, security, and the changing situation in Rakhine.
    Collecting necessary information on the requirements, challenges, and opinions of households suffering from malnutrition at the grassroots level, especially at the IDP camps, through discussions, is a must to ensure that the right decisions are made and the right tasks are drawn up.
    Mobile clinics can be very effective in helping people at IDP camps and villages, which are not easily accessible due to social problems, get access to healthcare. We need to find ways to provide regular healthcare services to such areas.
    In spite of the obstacles and challenges, the Ministry of Health and Sports is implementing the five-year Multi-Sectoral National Plan of Action on Nutrition (MS-NPAN) 2018-2023. Myanmar is also expanding its vaccination programme and actively participating as a member country in the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement for reducing malnutrition in accordance with the slogan — “1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future”.
    The movement covers dissemination of nutrition-related knowledge in states and regions, and nutrition campaigns for pregnant women and children under 2 years of age were started in 2013 through the establishment of five networks involving experts and organizations from the relevant sectors.
    To lay down future tasks for ending malnutrition and promoting health in Rakhine, different approaches from the technical, social, administrative, and management sectors should be adopted to ensure that the authorities concerned lay down pragmatic tasks.
    Understanding the causes of, and approaches and solutions to, nutrition-related public health achievements, situations, and problems in Rakhine State are key to fixing the problem of malnutrition in the state.

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