by Thanh Hai
HA NOI (VNS)— Tran Thu Ha's 12 months' old boy had not gained any weight or height for six months even though his mother was carefully feeding him.
Then a doctor at the National Institute of Nutrition told her that her 8-kilo boy was stunted due to malnutrition.
"My mistake was that I usually used only the liquid from pig or poultry bones and vegetables to cook porridge for my son. This diet is short of vitamins and calcium because most are still contained in the food cooked," said Ha.
"The doctor advised me that I should use ground meat and vegetables to make porridge so that my boy would get sufficient nutrients to develop. They also told me to add more high fibre food and fruit containing calcium, iron and vitamins."
Institute deputy director Le Danh Tuyen said that Ha was typical of the many young mothers and child-care workers who did not know enough about nutrition - or had no information passed down to them traditionally.
"This is why one out of every four children under the age of five is stunted in Viet Nam," said Tuyen.
"Micro-nutrient deficiency, especially lack of Vitamin A and iron, is still vital to solve health problems in Viet Nam," said Tuyen.
Deficiencies in iron, minerals and vitamins caused by eating mostly cereals impacts the health of about half the country's population, Tuyen said.
Institute statistics show that about 26.7 per cent of under-five children are shorter than they would be if they had a good diet. Almost 14 per cent of children have vitamin A deficiency and 36 per cent of pregnant women suffer from anaemia.
"Improvement of micro nutrient deficiency was one of important contents in the National Strategy for Malnutrition Prevention during the 2010-20 period," said Tuyen.
He added that an intervention programme for supplementing micro nutrients such as vitamin A, iron and iodine for children and woman would help reduce the blindness and mortality rates for children under five.
On the annual Micro-Nutrition Day on June 1-2, a high dose of vitamin A and iron will be provided to all children under three, children under five with infection diseases and mothers who have given birth.
Mothers and child-carers should be trained on how to use and create rich nutrient meals from local food sources and breast feeding, said Hop.
Hop said that high doses of vitamin A were provided twice yearly to more than 90 per cent of children nation-wide in efforts to reduce vitamin A deficiency to below 10 per cent by 2015. — VNS