Afghanistan celebrates the New Solar Year launching the National Nutrition Strategy
The National Nutrition Strategy launched in first week of the New Solar Year (1397) aims at improving nutrition status of population, particularly infants, young children, adolescents, and women of reproductive age. The strategy is developed and approved for 5 years (2019 to 2023) with a vision to ensure optimal nutritional status for all citizens to reach their full potential.
The strategy development process was participatory involving various Afghanistan Food Security and Nutrition Agenda (AFSeN-A) stakeholders including the leadership and team of various relevant directorates and units of the MoPH, the nutrition partners, comprising representatives from UNICEF, WFP, FAO, WHO, European Union delegation in Afghanistan, USAID, the World Bank, Canadian Embassy in Kabul (DFATD), NGOs working in Nutrition such as Save the Children.
This strategy will guide the Ministry of Publich Health (MoPH) and partners in designing and implementing evidence-based nutrition interventions to achieve SDGs through improving nutrition status of the people of Afghanistan and provide evidences and lessons for the global community in combating different types of malnutrition.
Speaking on the day of launch, on behalf of the One UN for Nutrition – UNICEF, WFP and WHO- UNICEF Deputy Representative, Sheema Sen Gupta said “This strategy is a heartening example of partnership between Government, the UN, Donors and the private sector that will serve the best interests of the people of Afghanistan.” “We are grateful for the enormous efforts made by the Ministry of Public Health in tackling undernutrition by ensuring that preventive and treatment nutritional services are reaching women and children.”
Translating this strategy into concrete budgeted action is an important next step if we are to make gains in addressing undernutrtion in Afghanistan. Longer term development and investments in prevention are essential to improve and sustain the nutritional outcomes of families and communities. Strengthening community and health systems is key towards creating the enabling environment and enhancing the resilience and ability of households towards improved nutrition.
In implementing the National Nutrition Strategy, Afghanistan can secure the opportunity for children to be well nourished in life so that we can protect and secure its future – as the greatest investment and the prosperity of this nation lies in its children.
In #Afgh, millions of #children are undernourished, & hundreds of thousands are suffering from its most severe forms. Under the leadership of Ministry of Public #Health, @UNICEFAfg, partners and donors launched the National Public #Nutrition Strategy. #ForEveryChild, rights pic.twitter.com/94WIJC5NjB
— UNICEF Afghanistan (@UNICEFAfg) March 24, 2019
A Nutrition Champion in Afghanistan
Dr. M. Homayoun Ludin was awarded with the title of Nutrition Champion in Afghanistan. Dr. Ludin served Public Nutrition in various capacities at Ministry of Public Health for almost 13 years. He has a passion to nutrition and regularly advocates for nutrition at national and international levels. During his tenure as a Public Nutrition Director, the Nutrition Department was upgraded to directorate level and many key strategies, guidelines, SOPs, training packages and protocols were developed and scaled up.
Dr. Ludin was an active member of the Afghanistan Food Security and Nutrition Agenda and Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement in the country. He has led and contributed to key national nutrition related processes such as incorporation of nutrition topics into the curriculum of the Kabul Medical Institute and institute of Ghazanfar Health Science, in Citizen Charter and in Women Empowerment Program. He played key role in adoption of National BMS code and introducing the BFHI in hospitals. Services for Management of Acute Malnutrition is now available and accessible in 1400 government health facilities and hospitals due to his nonstop technical efforts and advocacy. Universal iodization, food fortification, micronutrient supplementation are other key areas where Dr. Ludin contributed significantly.
He also has contributed to improving nutrition related indicators in the country: during his tenure in the public nutrition directorate, stunting among children under five reduced from 60,5 per cent in 2004 to 36.6 per cent in 2018 and iron and iodine deficiencies in children under five are reduced from 72 per cent to 26.1 per cent and 29.5 per cent respectively. Therefore, his outstanding performance and dedication was recognized and he was given the title of Nutrition Champion.