The news was revealed in a report from the National Institute for Nutrition (NIN) at a recent seminar held in Hanoi.
The programme, with financial support worth US$4 million from UNICEF and the Government of Japan, has fulfilled its target of improving nutrition conditions for 7,640 children with severe and acute malnutrition (SAM) in 6 provinces of Ninh Thuan, Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Tra Vinh, Hau Giang and Ca Mau.
The children were among 27,500 young kids suffering from malnutrition. In addition, 39,000 pregnant and lactating women lack nutrition in the 18 provinces affected by drought, the report said.
The programme focused on areas of safe water supply, promotion of sanitation and hygiene, providing micro-nutrient supplements for the most vulnerable women and children.
According to the institute, about 83,560 pregnant and lactating women, 62,270 children of six to 23 months are benefiting from the programme. They were provided multiple micronutrients for three months and participated in various nutrition training courses.
In addition, there was an increase in malnutrition among children at drought-affected regions, it announced.
Specifically, the number of children under the age of five suffering severe acute malnutrition (SAM) rose from between 1.3-1.8 percent to between 1.9-2.1 percent in 2016, it said.
Addressing the event, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long praised the project’s achievements, saying it has not only helped improve nutrition conditions of women and children but also enhanced knowledge for local health workers.
Jesper Moller, deputy representative of the UNICEF in Vietnam, expressed his hope that the project’s initial results would help boost nutrient and health care services for Vietnamese women and children in disaster affected areas.
A joint rapid assessment conducted in March last year by the Vietnamese government, the UN, and non-governmental organisations estimated that in the 18 most severely-affected provinces, around two million people were without access to water and 1.1 million people were in need of food aid. More than 60,000 women and children are already malnourished, and about 1.75 million people have lost their livelihoods as a result of the worsening situation.
In the same month, the government requested assistance from international partners for its relief efforts, prioritising support to ensure safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene practices and nutritional support in drought-affected areas and enhanced monitoring of potential disease outbreaks.
On 26 April 2016, the Government of Vietnam, United Nations and partners appealed to the international community to support a US$48.5 million joint Government-United Nations emergency response plan to address the El Nino drought, affecting as many as two million people in southern and central regions.