Illustrative photo (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Children from 6-60 months in 22 provinces having high stunted growth rates will be given free vitamin A supplements on the National Micronutrient Day (June 1-2), Director of the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) Le Danh Tuyen said on May 25.

The national drive also provide vitamin A capsules for children from 6-36 months in the remaining 41 cities and provinces, children at risk of micronutrient deficiency (malnourished and sick), and postpartum mothers, Tuyen said.

During the campaign, children aged from 24 months to less than 60 months in the 22 localities will also be dewormed, the health official said, adding that the information work will be intensified to raise public awareness of malnutrition and micro-nutrient deficiency.

The distribution of vitamin A supplements has become an annual activity at 11,000 wards and communes nationwide, benefiting nearly 1 million under-five children each year.

The NIN reported that the number of under-five children suffering from underweight in Vietnam dropped from 30.1 percent in 2000 to 14.1 percent in 2015 and only 13.8 percent in 2016. 

Vietnam has also eradicated blindness due to vitamin A deficiency and improved public awareness about micro-nutrient, the institute said.

However, the national rate of stunted growth among children still remained high at 24.3 percent in 2016 and unequal between regions, with big gaps between mountainous, disadvantaged and rural areas, and cities and delta regions.

Therefore, preventing micronutrient deficiency is one of the six important goals of the National Strategy on Nutrition for 2011-2020.

NIN Deputy Director Truong Tuyet Mai said providing micronutrient supplements for high-risk groups such as children and new mothers is a fast and timely measure to reduce the situation of micronutrient deficiency.

Medium-term measures such as adding micronutrient supplements to essential foods, and long-term, sustainable measures such as adding diverse food products to daily meals are being taken to solve the problem of micronutrient deficiency in Vietnam.

Adding micronutrient supplements to essential foods is a simple, effective way of improving daily meals, health, and quality of life, she said.-VNA