Media play key role in families’ health awareness: MINISTER

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KABUL: The National Nutrition Survey (NNS) which was started in 2013 by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) with technical and financial cooperation of UNICEF, Central Statistics Office, Agha Khan University and Silk Route, its results were announced yesterday in a press conference by the Minister of Public Health and UNICEF representative to Afghanistan.  
Findings of this survey suggest that around 58 percent of children below six months were exclusively breastfed thus preventing them from many childhood illnesses, the rate of iron deficiency in children had decreased from 72 percent to 26 percent in the past decade and iodine deficiency among children has reduced from 72 percent in 2004 to 30 percent in 2013.
Declaring the survey findings, Dr. Suraya Dalil, the Minister of Public Health said, that the survey shows significant improvement in the nutrition status of women and children in Afghanistan in the past ten years.
“A good thing coming out from the survey is that the efforts undertaken over the past decade have resulted in the improvement of the nutrition status of our people. It is now critical that we carry on in this direction till the goal of better health and nutrition for all Afghans is achieved,” said the minister while appreciating the reduction in malnutrition rates of women and children.
“Results of the survey indicate that awareness campaigns have had great impact in improving the knowledge and nutritional practices of families,” she added, emphasizing the role of the media can play in raising knowledge and awareness of families. 
Meanwhile, representative of UNICEF to Afghanistan, Akhil Iyer, said, “Improvements in the nutrition status of children, adolescent girls and women have made us more optimistic toward the future. Stunting among children has decreased by nearly 20 percent from 60.5 percent in 2004 to 40.9 percent in 2013”. The MoPH will soon be conducting and academic symposium to discuss the findings of the survey in detail and will come up with key recommendations and action plans to tackle the issue of malnutrition in the country. 
The NNS 2013 was conducted throughout the country, covering all 34 provinces where children under five, adolescent girls and women were surveyed. The nutrition status of adolescent girls (10-19 years) was assessed for the first time in Afghanistan in this survey and the findings highlight that nearly 8 percent of adolescent girls are thin or undernourished and about 30 percent of them are anemic as well.
The Kabul Times

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