Survey will provide information on nutritional status of children in Timor-Leste.
The EU and the Ministry of Health inaugurated the process of gathering data and information for the Timor-Leste Food and Nutrition Survey 2020. The results of the survey will help the Ministry understand the current situation related to the nutrition of children under five and will help improve planning and implementation of initiatives to increase the nutritional status of children.
“The country’s development is at stake when the nutrition of its children is compromised, either through the lack of nutritious food, or poor intake” said Dra. Odete Da Silva Viegas, Director-General of Health Services. “This survey will help us understand the situation of child nutrition and see if we have made progress or not.”
The nutrition survey will take place between 4 June and 4 September 2020. During the survey, 64 of enumerators will visit 12,740 households across the country, gathering information on anthropometry, feeding practices, water sanitation and hygiene, food security and health and nutrition seeking behaviour. These findings will be analysed and evaluated by the Ministry of Health. Preliminary results are due to be released by mid Sepetember 2020.
The last food security and nutrition survey was conducted in 2013, which showed that one in two children in Timor-Leste under five years of age are stunted — one of the highest rates of stunting in the world.
"Too many children are not getting the nutritious food and the healthcare they need. This undermines their capacity to grow, develop and learn to their full potential. It damages not only children themselves but has a negative impact on society. Today, I am proud to launch the nutrition data collection process together with the “trained enumerators” who will provide important information on the nutritional status of Timorese children and their mothers. I am keen in particular to learn of the impact of the work done to fight malnutrition by the Ministry of Health and other Government departments with the support of the European Union, UNICEF and others. Our partnership is designed to improve the wellbeing and nutritional status of the population”, said Andrew Jacobs, EU ambassador to Timor-Leste
UNICEF provides wide ranging support to nutrition programming in Timor-Leste. This includes the promotion, protection and support for breastfeeding, complementary feeding, treatment of wasting, micronutrient supplementation and fortification, and raising awareness across the country on how parents and caregivers can ensure children get nutritious food, or seek medical assistance when required.
“Malnutrition is the hidden emergency that affects children. If we do not know the scope of the problem and address it early enough in a child’s life, it can have a devastating impact on children and their future,” said Valerie Taton, UNICEF’s Representative in Timor-Leste. “It is why UNICEF is supporting this important initiative to assess the impact of malnutrition in children.”
Globally, statisticts have shown that nearly half of all deaths in children under 5 can be attributed to undernutrition. Malnutrition stunts children’s growth, deprives them of essential vitamins and minerals, and makes them more susceptible to disease.