Central Vietnam, milk in schools to fight malnutrition

The programme has been implemented in all 21 cities, towns, and districts in Nghe An province. The initiative was launched nationwide on 28 September 2016. The goal is to meet 90-95 per cent of the energy need of children and increase the height of boys and girls by 1.5 and 2 centimetres respectively. Critics view the provincial government’s claim of success as mere propaganda. In 2016, Nghe An was one of the four coastal provinces in Central Vietnam affected by the country's worst environmental disaster.

Nghe An (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A school milk programme in the central province of Nghe An has helped cut malnutrition among children, especially those under five years-old, this according to the provincial People’s Committee.

Thanks to the programme, malnutrition rates among pre-school children and primary pupils were cut by 2.85 per cent and 2.78 per cent, respectively, compared to 2010.

The school milk programme has been implemented in all 21 cities, towns and districts in the province. With support from the State budget, businesses and local authorities, kids receive five bottles of milk per week.

To date, almost 312,000 children have registered for milk at kindergartens and primary schools, 69 per cent of all local students.

The programme has, however, been hampered by poor infrastructure at kindergartens, with inadequate milk storage facilities and a shortage of human resources and money.

With the aim of 70 per cent of children benefitting from the programme by 2020, the province plans to better coordinate action among relevant authorities and prioritises supports for disabled children.

The school milk programme was launched nationwide on 28September 2016. It targets providing all pre-school children and elementary pupils in poor districts with milk by 2020, meeting 90-95 per cent of their energy needs and increasing the heights of school boys and girls by 1.5 and 2 centimetres respectively.

For critics, the provincial government’s claim of success is mere propaganda. They see the celebration of the programme as an attempt by the authorities to restore a positive image with the public.

Nghe An is one of the four coastal provinces in Central Vietnam (along with Hà Tĩnh, Quảng Bình and Thừa Thiên-Huế) affected by the country’s worst environmental disaster.

In April 2016, about 12,000 cubic metres of toxic chemical waste was released into the sea every day from a steel plant owned by Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group.

The spill killed more than 115 tonnes of fish, negatively impacting the lives of 200,000 people. It left 41,000 fishermen without a job with dire consequences for the local economy.

Formosa Plastics paid US$ 500 million in clean-up costs and compensation to victims, but the slow and irregular payment by the Vietnamese government sparked protests that continue more than a year after the disaster.

At present, hundreds of thousands of people in the central provinces are unemployed. Many families live in extreme poverty. Children are unable to go to school.

More than 200 km of coastline are still polluted. Tourism, business activities and fishing are still on hold.

Government critics claim that children's malnutrition in Nghe An province would be better dealt with by policies revitalising the local economy and helping families who have lost everything and have not received the compensation to which they are entitled.