Tajikistan signaled its commitment to join the SUN Movement on 5 September 2013.
Despite the significant progress achieved over the last decade, malnutrition among mothers and children still remains a key challenge for the Republic of Tajikistan and requires immediate action. A national micronutrient survey implemented by the Ministry of Health, with UNICEF support, showed high rates of anemia (24%) and iodine deficiency (59.6%) among women of childbearing age and discovered that 50% of children under five suffer from iodine deficiency.
According to the Demographic and Health Survey carried out in 2012, more than one quarter of all children aged 0-5 are stunted, one in every ten children suffers from severe malnutrition and 12% of children are underweight. Only 34% of mothers in Tajikistan breastfeed their children exclusively for the first six months, although this represents an improvement as compared to 2009 data (23%). Almost half of mothers start giving their children complementary food before the recommended age of six months; whereas some mothers introduce complementary feeding at a later stage, thus impairing their babies’ nutritional status.
The results of the 2011 Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) indicate that one third of the rural population is food insecure, and over 30% of those households are severely food insecure. Additionally, the lack of appropriate parental knowledge and skills about managing common childhood illnesses, child feeding practices and seeking timely medical attention plays a critical role in leading to childhood malnutrition. These factors, coupled with poor knowledge and skills on how to manage malnutrition among health professionals at the primary healthcare level, result in poor nutrition outcomes for children and women and cause micronutrient deficiencies, underweight and stunting.
Undernutrition seriously hampers the chances for Tajikistan’s children to have a better and more productive future. The newly released UNICEF/World Bank Nutrition Situation Analysis report suggested that malnutrition in Tajikistan costs almost US$41.0 million, or 1 % of GDP annually in economic losses. The same report indicated that a combination of iodine deficiency and stunting contributes to two-thirds of the losses. According to the analysis, almost 80% of these losses could be prevented by nationwide introduction and implementation of cost-effective, evidence-based interventions such as promotion of good nutritional practices, universal salt iodisation, micronutrient supplementation and management of severe and acute malnutrition.
The Ministry of Health is committed to save the lives of severely malnourished children and to improve the health and nutritional status of vulnerable children and women, including those in food insecure households, as well as those affected by severe winter conditions and rising food prices.
The Government of the Republic of Tajikistan is working closely with development partners in the context of an initiative to improve food security and nutrition within a multi-sectoral perspective. In addition to a series of broader strategic health plans, the government of Tajikistan recently established the Food Security Council of the Republic of Tajikistan (FSCT) to coordinate strategic decision making concerning food security in the country.
Putting Policies in Place
Since the time of its independence, Tajikistan has ratified several fundamental international instruments such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1993) and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Additionally, Tajikistan has several pieces of legislation that provide a solid foundation for improving nutrition.
- “On health care” (1997),
- “On reproductive health and reproductive rights” (2002),
- “On promotion of breastfeeding” (2006),
- “On salt iodization”
- “On safety of food products” (2012).
Nutrition-Sensitive Policies and Plans
- National Health Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan for 2010-2020 years;
- Strategic Plan of the Republic of Tajikistan on Reproductive Health for the period until 2014 (2004),
- National Child and Adolescent Health Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan for the period until 2015,
- National Program for Prevention, Diagnostics and Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus in the Republic of Tajikistan for 2012-2017.