Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fortified rice to feed children in 51 nurseries

The Department of Social Welfare (DSW) and PATH, a non-governmental organisation, launched a nutrition program that will replace regular rice with fortified rice to feed children.

The program to provide nutritious rice was launched on August 18 in Yangon.

Named “Fortifying the Future with Fortified Rice”, the initiative will be implemented in Yangon, Ayeyarwady, and Bago Region and Nay Pyi Taw – that will cover more than 6700 children from 51 nurseries under the Department of Social Welfare.

Dr San San Aye, director general of Department of Social Welfare, said that the fortified rice will replace the normal rice to feed the children at nurseries.

“The program is introduced in nurseries in four regions to reduce malnutrition. We plan to continue feeding rest of the nurseries nationwide with fortified rice,” she said.

The program to replace regular rice with fortified rice, which is natural blend of rice enriched with vitamins and minerals, targets children between the ages of two and five in nurseries – which are critical institutions for early childhood development.

According to the press release issued by PATH, the program depends on the success of the Maternal and Child Cash Transfer program, another DSW’s initiative, marking a major step forward to provide nutritional and health benefits to children from ages of two to five.

The program aims to address nutrition deficiency among children, to enable them to perform well in school and achieve their full potential as adults.

PATH has been supporting the Ministry of Health and Sports, National Nutrition Center in the introduction of fortified rice in Myanmar since 2013. PATH provides technical support to local producers to manufacture fortified rice funded by Livelihoods and Security Trust Fund (LIFT), according to PATH.

Dr Lwin Mar Hlaing, assistant director, National Nutrition Centre, under the Department of Public Health said malnutrition still remains a major health problem in Myanmar.

“Stunt (growth) and anemia among those under five is one of the health problem related to nutritional deficiency in Myanmar.”

She added that they had been working since 2013 to produce fortified rice with technical support from PATH. Fortified rice contains rice and added eight vitamins and minerals, iron, vitamin A, B1, B3, B6, folic acid, B12 and zinc to improve its nutritional content.

“We have many challenges to educate about behavioural changes. We assumed that this is a good approach to add vitamin and mineral to the rice because Myanmar people used to eat rice essentially every day.”

The stunting rate has reduced compared with the past six years but still remain a health problem, said Dr May Khin Than, director of National Nutrition Centre, Department of Public Health, on August 19.