he Health and Nutrition Ministry will introduce a National Nutrition Policy in order to develop a national action plan and a strategic plan to be implemented through inter-sectoral cooperation by the provincial health authorities, a Ministry spokesman said.
The cabinet approval has been granted to Health Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva for the purpose, spokesman W. M. D. Wanninayaka said.
The objectives of the National Nutrition Policy are to develop a national action plan based on the National Nutrition Policy and the strategic plan to be implemented through inter-sectoral cooperation by the provincial health authorities and to obtain budgetary allocations in keeping with the strategic plan prepared by this ministry, he said.
Nutritional status of Sri Lankans, that showed a marginal improvement over the last decade, still continue to be a challenge. Underweight children under five years have declined only marginally from 22.8% in 2000 to 21.6% in 2007.
Wasting and stunting remains almost static around 15% and 18% respectively. Iron deficiency is another problem affecting the entire population, particularly among pre-school children (29.9%) and pregnant mothers (30.3%). Nutrition status is the composite outcome of consumption of nutritious food, health and well-being of an individual.
However, many factors lie outside the purview of healthcare and nutrition sector and require involvement of many sectors and agencies. Such a concerted effort need commitment at the highest level guided by a laid-down policy framework. Most stakeholders are of the view that formulation of a national policy is a measure in the right direction, Wanninayaka said.
As there is no formal documented national nutrition policy, a cabinet appointed multicultural committee carried out the initial work towards drafting a national policy. Based on this document the Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition took up the task of drafting the National Nutrition Policy.
Despite the efforts of the government and other agencies, optimum results cannot be achieved unless all interventions are carried out according to a well designed work plan in a coordinated manner. National Nutrition Policy is a prerequisite to such a plan and it has to be based on the ground situation and the scope and responsibility of relevant agencies, he said.