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UN, China launch program to address food-related challenges

2010-06-12 11:23

BEIJING - Some 1.8 million people will benefit from a new United Nations project that tackles malnutrition and improves food safety for China's most vulnerable groups.

Known as the "Joint Programme on Improving Nutrition, Food Safety and Food Security for China's Most Vulnerable Women and Children," the Millennium Development Goal Achievement Fund (MDG-F) program was launched in Beijing on Friday.

The Spanish government through the MDG Fund has provided US$6 million and the Chinese government US$1 million for the three-year project that ends in 2012.  

The project will cover six of China's poorest counties: Zhen'an and Luonan in Shaanxi province, Panxian and Zheng'an in Guizhou province, and Wuding and Huize in Yunnan province.

The project was conceived to address specific food-related challenges in China.

There are vast disparities in nutritional status between urban and rural Chinese children. A main source of child nutrition, breast milk, is undermined by a low breastfeeding rates among Chinese women and inadequate breastfeeding duration by those who do breastfeed.

In addition, poor food security has resulted in an insufficient intake of nutrient-rich foods and deficiencies in iodine, folic acid and Vitamin A.

The joint programme will strengthen the national database on the nutritional situation of women and children.

The project will also reduce malnutrition and micro-nutrient deficiencies among poor women and children in the pilot counties by asking mothers to breastfeed their babies for six months, by providing women and children with micro-nutrient supplements and by strengthening food fortification efforts.

In the area of food safety, the program aims to make children's food production and preparation safer and in line with national food safety standards.

A joint programme-management committee has been established to coordinate the project, monitor its progress and document lessons learnt.

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