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Tackling child malnutrition in rural Vietnam

A Vietnamese child is fed some foodThe number of young children with malnutrition in a poor, rural province has been reduced by 10% in a year following intervention by Plan Vietnam.

According to a 2007 study 2 in 3 children under 5 years old were malnourished in Van Kieu of Quang Binh province. Through a number of Plan initiatives focusing on malnutrition and parenting skills, this figure is dramatically falling. Gender inequalities are also being addressed through education activities.

Children from 2 to 5 are being given de-worming tablets and nutritional meals, pregnant mothers are supplied with iron tablets and communities educated about childcare, nutrition, water and sanitation and injury prevention.

Training courses are also held to educate teachers, health volunteers and health service staff who can then pass this information on through the local language, to the villagers.

Newborn babies

Van Kieu is a very poor area where there are few toilets or safe water and the people have to travel huge distances to find arable land. Before Plan's intervention, newborn babies were not getting the care they needed as their mothers had to go straight back to work.

One local woman explained: “When babies are a month old, they're fed with minced rice. In some cases, when the baby is 2 to 3 days old, the minced rice is put into a piece of cloth for the baby to suck, because their mother has to go to the field.”

This situation was made more desperate by the poor hygiene, little nutritional knowledge, pervasive gender inequalities and health workers' limited capacity in treating ethnic minority groups.

Through the communication activities, Van Kieu villagers have also gained a greater understanding of gender equality. “Now I know how to cook a nutritious meal from local materials for our kids. My husband supports me a lot and helps me to wash vegetables and prepare food,” said Ky from Khe Ngang village.