A medical worker at Quỳnh Mai Ward Health Station in Hà Nội's Hai Bà Trưng District gives Vitamin A supplements to local children. VNA/VNS Photo Dương Ngọc
Professor Doctor Lê Danh Tuyên, director general of the National Institute of Nutrition, talks to online newspaper Sức Khoẻ và Đời Sống (Health and Life) about why we need to focus more on child development and protection
How do micro nutrients help in the protection and development of children?
We all know micro nutrients are very important in a child’s development and protection. A deficiency will have negative impacts on the child’s intellectual and physical development. It will also weaken the child’s immune system and in serious cases, it may lead to death. A lack of micro nutrients, such as vitamin A, iron, folate, zinc and iodine, seriously impact a child’s development. For example, vitamin A deficiency may cause blindness, while iodine deficiency can seriously impede a child’s mental development. All in all deficiencies seriously impact a child’s physical development, intelligence and others. For example, iodine deficiency during pregnancy has a negative impact on the fetus, while an insufficient supply of thyroid hormones to the developing brain may result in mental disorders.
Việt Nam is known to suffer from micro nutrient deficiency. What should we do to improve the situation?
The global micro nutrient deficiency map covers all developing nations, and Việt Nam is no exception. The Vietnamese diets in general, especially for children, does not supply sufficient nutrients.
Over the years, Việt Nam has launched many comprehensive solutions in the fight against malnutrition, particularly micro nutrient deficiency. Of course we will continue the fight in the future. We have already achieved quite remarkable results in improving our people’s nutrition and reduce the number of malnourished children.
However, we still face many challenges, particularly with young children. For example, the rate of malnutrition among children under 5 years old has been reduced by 1 per cent per year, but in 2017 the rate still stood at 23.8 per cent.
Malnutrition and micro nutrient deficiency are the two main reasons why Vietnamese people are shorter than their foreign peers, and also for low labour productivity.
That’s why Việt Nam should focus more on improving nutritional value for both youngsters and adults.
What’s the significance of Nutrient Day in Việt Nam?
Nutrient Day is organised annually in Việt Nam to speed up the fight against nutrient deficiency and malnutrition among children and their mothers.
On Nutrient Day, more than 6 million children under 5 years old are given vitamin A while a million children from 24–60 months are given febrifugal medicines.
Annually, some 1 million children under 5 years old and pregnant women nationwide are given vitamin A.
The main message for 2019 Nutrient Day is “nutrients give children good health and a high quality of life.” VNS