New $30m Nutrition Plan Aims to Reduce Child Wasting, Stunting

ADDIS ABABA – The Ministry of Health, along with two other partners, has launched a new multisectoral nutrition program to reduce the level of maternal malnutrition, child wasting, and stunting in Ethiopia on Friday.

The program, entitled ‘Addressing Maternal Malnutrition, Child Wasting and Stunting in Ethiopia’, will be implemented across 10 regions through a partnership agreement between the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, and Action Against Hunger. 

The $30 million partnership agreement is a match-funding of 50 percent from the three partners, said the program partners in a joint statement today.

The partners said the investment “will be catalytic” in supporting the operation of the Ministry of health’s New Ethiopian National Food and Nutrition Strategy.

Director of Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Directorate at the Ministry of health, Dr. Meseret Zelalem, noted the joint program is a part of the government’s push to reduce the level of malnutrition and its impact in Ethiopia.

“The Government of Ethiopia has a strong commitment to accelerate the reduction of stunting and ending child malnutrition by 2030 as a key strategy for human capital development and inclusive economic development,” Dr. Meseret added.

Ethiopia has experienced a steady reduction in the prevalence of stunting over the past two decades from 58% in 2000 to 37% in 2019. 

However, despite the progress, the level of stunting and wasting among children remains high. At least 5.8 million children under the age of five are affected by stunting and 1.2 million are affected by wasting, according to recent reports.

“Given the scale of malnutrition in the country, there is an urgent need to accelerate the provision of vital nutrition services for vulnerable people,” said the joint statement. 

It said the $30 million program aims to address the main drivers of short and long-term malnutrition by combining multiple interventions and scaling the coverage of high-impact health and nutrition services. It plans to reach at least one million pregnant women and three million children with vital health and nutrition services in the span of five years.

The program’s scope ranges from influencing policies at the national level to system strengthening support at the grassroots level, for sustainable delivery of quality nutrition services at scale for women and children in Ethiopia.

Kitka Goyol, UNICEF Deputy Representative, said improving maternal nutrition “is important to ensure” women’s health and achieve better pregnancy and birth outcomes.

“Equally, the prevention of wasting and stunting will promote optimal growth for children to thrive in a productive workforce,” said the representative, adding UNICEF is committed to supporting the Government of Ethiopia and mobilizing funding for the program.

Featured Image Caption: Maritu Urgessa, feeding Tarekegn Yohannes who is 8 months old in her house at Shebedino woreda in the SNNP region on 4 July 2019.  [Photo File/UNICEFEthiopia/Ayene]

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