This article was originally published here
Matern Child Nutr. 2021 Sep 15:e13229. doi: 10.1111/mcn.13229. Online ahead of print.
South Asia has made significant progress in reducing child undernutrition. The prevalence of stunting declined by one third between 2000 and 2019; as a result, in 2019, there were 34 million fewer stunted children than in 2000, indicating that progress for child nutrition is possible and is happening at scale. However, no country in South Asia is on track for all nutrition targets of Sustainable Development Goal 2, and the region has the highest prevalence of stunting (33.2%) and wasting (14.8%) in the world. Nepal, the best performing country in the region, narrowly missed the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target to half the prevalence of child underweight between 1990 and 2015 and achieved the fastest recorded reduction in stunting prevalence in the world between 2001 and 2011. In 2019, UNICEF Nepal completed a series of papers to examine Nepal’s progress on maternal and child nutrition during the MDG era. The series explores the trends, distribution and disparities in stunting, micronutrient deficiencies and feeding practices in children under 5 years and anaemia in adolescents and women. Besides, it reviews national micronutrient programmes (vitamin A supplementation, iron and folic acid supplementation and universal salt iodization) and Nepal’s first Multi-Sector Nutrition Plan, to illuminate the success factors and enduring challenges in the policy and programme landscape for nutrition. This overview paper summarizes the evidence from these analyses and examines the implications for the direction of future advocacy, policy and programme actions to improve maternal and child nutrition in Nepal and other similar contexts.