“Health plus” plan to increase food security in deprived areas

January 4, 2022 - 16:15

TEHRAN – Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam and the Ministry of Health signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Tuesday to increase food security in deprived areas of the country, IRINN reported.

Under the MOU, a plan called “health plus” will be implemented by the Ministry of Health, the Nutrition Institute, the Barekat pharmaceutical group, and the Khordad 15th Foundation to promote the health and nutritional safety of children, infants, and pregnant mothers.

The plan will be piloted in Sistan-Baluchestan province with an initial budget of 30 billion rials (nearly $110,000), Hamidreza Alianzadegan, CEO of Barekat Foundation said.

Stressing that the plan focuses on low-income areas and children aged 5 or younger, he stated that nutritional supplements for children, infants, and pregnant mothers are provided with the purpose of children’s intellectual development.

The plan will eventually expand throughout the country, he further noted, highlighting that food security is as important to the country as military security.

Iran’s undernourishment prevalence

According to the report, Iran experienced a relative reduction in the prevalence of undernourishment in its total population, dropping from 5.2 percent in the period of 2004-2006 to 4.7 percent in the period of 2017-2019. However, despite this improvement, the net number of people experiencing undernourishment increased from 3.6 to 3.9 million.

Hunger increases worldwide

A report jointly prepared by FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO shows that currently around 690 million people or 8.9 percent of the world population are hungry. Compared to the previous figures, this number is up by 10 million people in one year and by nearly 60 million in five years.

“The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020” also indicates that the number of people affected by severe food insecurity has experienced a similar upward trend over the last five years. In 2019, close to 750 million—or nearly one in ten people in the world—were exposed to severe levels of food insecurity.

The figures reveal that about 2 billion people in the world did not have regular access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food in 2019.

Considering the widespread impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is estimated that the pandemic may add between 83 and 132 million people to the total number of undernourished in the world in 2020 depending on the economic growth scenario.

While the burden of malnutrition in all its forms remains a challenge for the world, current estimates reveal that in 2019, 21.3 percent (144 million) of children under 5 years of age were stunted, 6.9 percent (47 million) wasted, and 5.6 percent (38.3 million) overweight.

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