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Invest in first 1000 days of child’s life to stop malnutrition: UNICEF nutrition chief

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BHOPAL: Arjan de Wagt, Chief of Nutrition in UNICEF India has said that there is need to focus and invest in first 1000 days of child's life to reduce malnutrition. 

He was speaking in the technical session of day two of the International conference of nutrition sensitive agriculture and nutrition literacy,

He said the focus should be squarely on stunting reduction in MP. Stunting, as per Arjan de Wagt, reflects chronic under-nutrition during the most critical periods of growth and development in early life.

It is marker of multiple deprivations, under developed brain, diminished mental ability and learning capacity, reduced earnings in later life, increased risk of diabetes, hypertension and obesity in later life.

“Stunted children are denied the opportunity to grow up to be skilled productive workforce capital that India will need in the future,” he said, adding that 3.3 million children under age of five years are stunted. 

He said that action lies within all of us. Government can provide policies, funding, implement programs but the change is to do with behavior.

For this the BIG 4 are exclusive breastfeeding – Not even water during first 6 months, dietary diversity - prepare nutrient rich foods from 6 months, meal frequency - 3-4 meals and 1-2 snacks and hygiene - wash hands and utensils

He added that Nutrition is too important to leave it to others and there should be a social movement (Poshan Jan Andolan) to stop child malnutrition in MP.

He said that we need to implement high nutrition impact programmes across MP with: C²IQ Coverage, Continuity, Intensity and Quality

Dr Sheela Bhambal, senior paediatrician made a call to promote exclusive breastfeeding and promote infant and young child feeding practices.

Purnima Menon of IFPRI shared data on impact of complimentary feeding in Bangladesh, Ethopia and Vietnam. 

Michael Juma, Chief, UNICEF, MP who spoke yesterday at inaugural of this conference also praised the State for its commitment to children and had called in for increased focus to reduce stunting and promote positive practices in 1000 days of life of child. 

International conference is being organised by Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Madhya Pradesh in partnership with UNICEF, IFAD, CII, GTZ and Deen Dayal Institute at Bhopal from May 14 to 16, at Bhopal.