National Nutrition Week

Bangladesh has made significant progress in health outcomes. Life expectancy at birth has increased at 72 years. Neonatal, Infant, child as well as maternal mortality rates have been reduced remarkably. The under-five mortality rate in Bangladesh declined from 151 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990 to 36 in 2015 and during the same period the infant and neonatal mortality rate reduced from 94 deaths to 29 and 67 deaths to 20 in 1990 to 2015 per 1000 live births respectively. Similarly maternal mortality rate (MMR) also declined per 100,000 live births from 574 in 1990 to 143 in 2015. But the country is still facing the burden of under nutrition which is the basic element to fight against most of the causes of mortality and morbidity. The rate of stunting, wasting and underweight among under five children is alarming which is 36, 14 and 33 percent respectively. Besides, there is a rapid increase in prevalence of overweight, obesity and non-communicable disease.

The Government of Bangladesh has given much emphasis on nutrition and took several initiatives to improve the nutritional status of the country people to have a good health outcome and productive life. As such, Government has taken several initiatives and enacted several policies and laws and revitalized Bangladesh National Nutrition Council (BNNC). Besides, Second National Plan of Action for Nutrition (NPAN 2) is at implementation stage where multi-sectoral approach was given much more importance to have response from other related ministries as Nutrition is a cross cutting issue.

Last 13 August, 2017 the Honorable Prime Minister chaired the first meeting of BNNC where four major decisions were taken and of the most important decision was to observe National Nutrition week during April 23 to 29. Based on the decision, Institute of Public Health Nutrition (IPHN) and Bangladesh National Nutrition Council worked together with the guidance from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to observe the Week.

Objectives of the National Nutrition Week 2018

The National Nutrition Week was observed after more than a decade. As such, the main objective of this week is to create a buzz of nutrition among mass people, social influential, development partners, policy makers and related stakeholders. So that, each individual started to think of nutritious food and act to improve nutrition status.

The specific objectives are

  • Engage Policy makers, Local Government and local institutions, Program Manager and NGOs in national nutrition program
  • Create mass awareness through providing correct and complete information on nutrition and motivate them to take nutritious food
  • Visualize the success stories of nutrition program
  • Disseminate the importance of nutrition in life-cycle approach
  • Discuss nutrition issues in several thematic areas   

The week was designed with five thematic areas to be observed on a specific day including an opening ceremony on the first day and a closing at the end day of the week. The days are as below:

Day

Date

Thematic Exposure

Monday

April 23, 2018

Inaugural session, Fair and Rally

Tuesday

April 24, 2018

Maternal Nutrition

Wednesday

April 25, 2018

Child Nutrition specially under five child (with emphasis to autism, physical and mentally challenged child)

Thursday

April 26, 2018

Nutrition for school going child and Adolescent as well as food habit

Friday

April 27, 2018

Geriatric Nutrition

Saturday

April 28, 2018

Multi-sectoral coordination and discussion

Sunday

April 29, 2018

Closing and prize giving ceremony

Opening Ceremony:

  Rally: The day of National Nutrition Week 2018 started with a rally from Doyel Chattarto Osmani memorial. Different GoB departments, development partners and academic institutions participated in the rally.

Stall: A total of 20 stalls exhibited in the auditorium premises.Stalls were installed from both GoB departments and development partners. There were seven GoB stalls and rest 13 were from development partners. The list of stalls is as follows: IPHN,  IEM- DGFP, BHE – DGHS,MoWCA, MoA, BIRTAN, BSTI, WORLD FISH, SDF, HKI,  NI, CARE, BRAC, CONCERN WORLDWIDE, BIID, SUCHANA, UNITED-PURPOSE,PHFB,INCA, BBF,

Guests’ speech and opening activities:

It was a grand opening ceremony where four Ministers were present along with participants from development partners as well as directorates/departments of several GoB ministries. A team of Sisimpur moppet welcomed honorable guests. The team also performed a nutrition related song to cheer-up the audience.

Mr. Md Habibur Rahman Khan, Additional Secretary (PH & WH), Health Service Division welcomed honorable guests and participants. During his welcome speech, he briefly presented current situation of nutrition in Bangladesh. A video documentary on the background on positioning of Institute of Public Health Nutrition and Bangladesh National Nutrition Council as well as the success stories of nutrition program and a theme songwas shown to the participants and honorable guests. A Jingle was also transmitted throughout the program. The Jingle was used at the very beginning of the program as well as in between other activity and speakers.

Prof. Dr. Sayed Modasser Ali, Chairman, BMRC recognized various success and initiatives of the present Government. He emphasized the use of community clinic to disseminate nutrition related information and motivate community people to take nutritious food.

  Mr. Narayon Chandra Chanda, MP and honorable Minister Fisheries and Livestockwas present as the special guest. The honorable Minister told that nutrition is an important determinant of Public Health that plays a significant role in building healthy and productive nation. As such, nutrition is not a mandate for only Health Ministry. He insisted all related stakeholders and Ministries to come forward in removing malnutrition from Bangladesh.

Another special guest was Advocate Md. Qamrul Islam, MP, honorable Minister, Ministry of Food. The Food Minister told that before independence Bangladesh was a country of 75 million people but we were straggling for food but now we have 160 million people and every people can afford food and we have enough storage of food grains. Now our prime responsibility is to ensure nutrition, he added. To ensure nutrition, Ministry of Food is focusing more on to ensure safe food. As such, we are monitoring from food production to consumers. Besides, the Minister also mentioned that the Ministry has taken initiative for rice fortification and distribute 30 kg. fortified rice among five million vulnerable families at the cost of 10 taka/Kg. He also shared that GoB is planning to distribute fortified rice through VGD, VGF and food for work activities.

Honorable Minister, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,Mr. Mohammad Nasim, MP was present as the Chief Guest. The Health Minister told that we are observing the national nutrition week after several years. The last nutrition week was observed in 2000 when we were in government. Then the other party government didn’t continue. Again we started to continue it in a robust way and made collaboration with seventeen Ministries. We initiated to observe nutrition week with the direction from our honorable Prime Minister which indicates how much she is concerned about the health of the people. Nutrition is the fundamental determinants for good health that improves productivity and ultimately increases GDP. As such, we reactivated Bangladesh National Nutrition Council (BNNC) where honorable Prime Minister is the chair and other related Ministers, State Ministers, Senior Secretaries, the Executive Chairman, Chairman of different institutions are members. We have lots of achievements; we achieved MDG to achieve SDG we have to be focus on nutrition. So, our honorable Prime Minister is a pro-people leader, she knows how to improve Bangladesh and she has given importance on nutrition.

Honorable Minister, Ministry of Agriculture Begum Motia Chowdhury, MP was present in the opening ceremony as the Principal Speaker.  She told, nutrition is very important for public health and plays significant role in building a healthy and wealthy nation. Ensuring nutrition is the only way to support physical and psychological growth of all people. So, we have to consider nutrition in each stage of human life-cycle. Currently our nutritional situation is not satisfactory because still we have stunting, wasting and low birth weight as 36.1, 14.3 and 32.4 percent respectively. But with direction of our honorable Prime Minister, the Health Minister is leading well and health sector has lots of achievements. Institutional delivery has been increased and Health sector is providing training to even birth attendant to have safe delivery. As such, maternal and child mortality reduced significantly; increased life expectancy and successfully achieved MDG.We will also achieve SDG because during last three decades, ourhealth and nutritional status improved that reflects our peoples’ behavior, attitude, choice as well as life style. The honorable Minister drew the example of China as they (people of China specifically women) were short and ill-health but now their height has been increased and they are in good health. Both men and women are working and make China a developed country. China did it by ensuring safe and nutritious food for their people. Nutrition develops immune system to protect disease and we get nutrition from safe and quality food. So, to me disease means hunger or lack of safe quality food for what we were straggling. Now we have enough food; now we have to ensure safe and variety of food in food plate of our people. I would also encourage my Ministry to innovate more variety of nutritious food.

The father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibdreamed for hunger free country to build Sonar Bangla. With the direction from honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, we are self-dependent on food,achieved the status of middle income country and dreamed to be a developed country by the year 2041. To achieve this goal, we should give more attention to improve nutritional status. It will help us to build a healthy and productive nation. As we set our goal, so we are giving sector specific attention and trying to improve our status where we are behind.

The opening ceremony was chaired by the Secretary, Health Service Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Mr. Md. SirajulHaque Khan. The respected Secretary showed his gratefulness to the honorable guests and participants. He added that MoH&FW will follow the directions came out from different Ministers speech. He shared his sincere commitment to coordinate all related Ministries as well as stakeholders to fight mal-nutrition. Finally the Director General, Directorate General of Health Services Prof. Dr. AbulKalam Azad provided vote of thanks to all who worked hard for making the grand opening ceremony successful.

Conclusion: It is rare to present four different Ministers in a same platform. The rare presence indicates the mindset of present government on nutrition. Reducing malnutrition needs multi-sectoral approach where multi-stakeholders coordination is essential. The grand opening ceremony highlights coordination, collaboration and commitment of different ministries as well as development partners.