Marshall Islands malnutrition plan gets a boost

The World Bank is helping the Marshall Islands fight child malnutrition.

UNICEF and the government of the Marshall Islands reported that more and more Marshallese children don’t consume enough fruit and vegetables. The typical primary school kid ate mostly packaged junk food like doughnuts and pancakes, instant noodles, and canned meat.

With World Bank assistance, the Marshall Islands are starting a major effort to reduce childhood malnutrition and wasting.

The bank authorised $30 million for two early childhood nutrition programmes.

According to government health statistics, one-third of Marshall Islands children are malnourished.

It’s a health catastrophe that may lead to a lifetime poverty trap.

Degi Young, World Bank resident representative, said the initiative would assist early childhood development, health, home visits, enhancing pre-school attendance, and strengthening family support.

“This social protection effort assures youngsters in all Marshall Islands get cash in their first 1,000 days.

“We have a programme for expectant moms to guarantee a healthy pregnancy,” she stated.

Under former Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine, ECD 1 commenced in 2019 with a $12 million World Bank grant.

RNZ Pacific’s Marshall Islands reporter Giff Johnson said the initial initiative was delayed by the epidemic and problems getting personnel in. Because of the closure, Marshall Islands is Covid-free. But donor-funded projects are months or years behind because of the closure.

Marshall Islands Early Childhood Development coordinator Fred Muller stated they would examine development over the following five years.

“We start early years family registration on June 13 and payment in August, then every two months,” added Johnson.

It’s a five-year initiative to create an information system to monitor money and construct a monetary and assessment system.

UNICEF and the Marshall Islands government found that inadequate nutrition stunted 35% of children in the 1990s.

Health officials want to control these numbers via early childhood development programmes.