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Unicef aims to address malnutrition

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
It has been estimated that 2.6 percent of Cambodian children suffer from malnutrition. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Unicef yesterday launched a Nutrix production facility in Phnom Penh in a bid to address malnourished children.

Nutrix in Cambodia is a fish-based therapeutic snack made for malnourished children. With the Nutrix production facility, the government will be able to address the issue.

It has been estimated that 2.6 percent of Cambodian children suffer from malnutrition.

Government officials, and representatives from Unicef and Danish Care Foods during the launch said the therapeutic food will be produced to address malnourishment in Cambodian children.

“The Cambodian government can provide Nutrix to treat severe acute malnutrition in children under the age of five in poor communities through local health facilities,” said a joint press release issued yesterday. “It is estimated that in Cambodia, between 60,000 to 90,000 children need specialised medical treatment annually, including therapeutic food.”

“Home-based ready-to-use therapeutic foods are prescribed as a treatment,” it added. “Research shows that there is low up-take from children requiring treatment of the existing products currently provided within the health facilities in Cambodia.”

Health Minister Mam Bunheng yesterday said the government is aiming to treat at least 25,000 children with severe malnutrition per year.

“Over the last five years, many partners have supported us to develop this product,” Mr Bunheng said. “We are hopeful that this new partnership will help us reach more children with severe acute malnutrition.”

Unicef deputy regional director Wivina Belmonte said that malnutrition is a major cause of death in children under five in the region, noting that Cambodia is one of only two countries in the region to have its own therapeutic food production facility.

“Over five million children in the East Asia-Pacific region under the age of five are affected by severe malnutrition annually,” Ms Belmonte said. “The Royal Government of Cambodian should be congratulated for prioritising this issue and for strengthening treatment.”

Lyndon Paul, general manager of Danish Care Foods, said “DCF is a social enterprise that began five years ago”. Mr Paul said that his company aims to reach as many affected children as possible.

“With the same amount of government budget, the Ministry of Health can treat 20 per cent more children thanks to the lower cost of procuring the therapeutic product,” he said.

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