UN: Bangladesh on course to cut stunting by 40% within 2025

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Only Pakistan, with 41%, and Nepal and Bhutan, jointly with 19%, fared worse than Bangladesh in terms of TFA intake

Bangladesh is on track to achieve the World Health Assembly (WHA)’s target of eliminating stunting among children by 40% within 2025.

The finding was included in the second annual report developed collaboratively by the United Nations agencies on progress in Asia and the Pacific towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 to eliminate hunger and malnutrition by 2030, said a press release.

Food and Agriculture Organization, Unicef, World Food Program and World Health Organization jointly issued the press release.

The WHA is the forum through which the World Health Organization is governed by its 194 member states. It is the world’s highest health policy setting body and is composed of health ministers from member states.

The improvement was attributed to several factors, including a cross-sectoral Souhardo project, which showed positive impacts on nutrition.

“Significant synergies were found in reducing stunting when the maternal and child-health nutrition component of the project was combined with poverty and food-security interventions (e.g. support for home gardens and income-generating activities and participation in public work).”

However, the country also ranked third from South Asia in terms of having the highest proportions of cardiovascular disease deaths due to the excessive intake of trans-fatty acids (TFAs) with 17%.

Only Pakistan, with 41%, and Nepal and Bhutan, jointly with 19%, fared worse than Bangladesh in terms of TFA intake.

The report also stated that rice prices increased substantially in Bangladesh in 2017 due to severe flooding, and they remained high into early 2018 until increases in production and imports helped ease domestic prices over the course of the year.

An estimated 77.2 million children under five years of age were stunted in Asia and the Pacific in 2018, of which 58 million was from South Asia.

Countries with a low prevalence of stunting generally have relatively high (by regional standards) per capita consumption of animal source protein, which contains the complete set of essential amino acids important for growth, the report also said.

A section of this report discussed how to develop social protection programs that accelerated progress in eradicating hunger and malnutrition. The focus of the section was on making social protection programs more nutrition-sensitive and shock-responsive by describing key lessons derived from experiences worldwide.

In addition to analyzing progress towards SDG 2, this report describes developments in the past year that could affect regional food security and nutrition in the medium to long term. Continued economic growth also has the potential to improve food security and nutrition.