National Micronutrient Day 2013 was launched in the northern province of Thai Nguyen on May 28, promoting the essential role micronutrients play in people’s health, stature and brainpower.

Aiming to alleviate the shortage of micronutrients among mothers and children, the event features provision of Vitamin A for children and a communication campaign to raise public knowledge on nutrition.

Addressing the launching ceremony, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long called for intersectoral coordination in the production and consumption of foods rich in vitamins and minerals.

He underscored the need to provide micronutrients for mothers and children at disadvantaged and remote areas as well as those suffering from natural disasters.

National Micronutrient Day officially takes place on June 1-2, during which children aged 6 to 60 months nationwide are provided with Vitamin A.

The children also receive worm treatment and have their height measured.

Caregivers are encouraged to combine 15-20 foods from the four food groups in daily meals.

Infants should be fed only breast milk in the first six months of their lives and be supplemented with suitable and locally available food, according to the institute.

The Vitamin A supplementation programme has been carried out in all communes and wards across the country for many years, benefiting over 90 percent of children aged 6 to 36 months and between 6 and 60 months in 22 disadvantaged provinces.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, malnutrition among children is common in Vietnam, one in three children under-five exhibits stunted growth, reflecting inadequate health and nutrition services for women and young children.

Vietnam is one of the 24 countries that account for 80 percent of the world’s stunted children.

Vitamins and minerals are needed only in tiny quantities, but their absence can be devastating. Micronutrient deficiencies, however, often have no visible warning signs, causing a ‘hidden hunger’ with far-reaching consequences.-VNA