USAID and UNICEF join to improve children’s health and nutrition in Armenia

On February 12, USAID and UNICEF signed a cooperation agreement for a two-year program that will help improve the health and nutrition of Armenian children 0-5 years of age.

The latest Armenia Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) revealed worsening trends in the nutritional status of children in Armenia. Nineteen percent of children under five fell into the “stunted” category in 2010 due to mothers’ poor feeding practices, according to the DHS. The health and development of infants and young children is dependent upon good nutrition. Poor nutrition increases the risk of dying due to infectious diseases and contributes to impaired physical and mental development.

To help Armenia face this public health issue, UNICEF will work with the Armenian Ministry of Health and World Vision to address mother and child health needs in the country. Infant and young children’s nutrition as well as prevention of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in children’s diets will be of particular focus. The program will provide education on best feeding practices and will support local health care clinics to deliver quality child health and nutrition services across the country, including rural areas.

Partners will also address the monitoring and evaluation system for nutrition at the community, regional and national level, and will work to improve family and community awareness on childcare, nutrition practices, children’s growth and development to facilitate early identification of nutrition related problems.

The initiative is part of a broader global effort to prevent and treat acute malnutrition. The goal is to help reduce under-nutrition in women and children during the child’s first 1,000 days, which encompasses pregnancy and the first two years of life. Receiving proper nutrition during this 1,000-day window can have an enormous impact on a child’s ability to grow and learn. It can also have a profound effect on the long-term health, stability, and development of entire communities and countries.

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