Vietnam: Integrated Nutrition and Food Security Strategies for Children and Vulnerable Groups in Viet Nam

Despite the fact that Viet Nam has achieved a significant reduction in malnutrition among children under five, malnutrition remains a public health priority. Strong regional disparities in nutritional status persist and vulnerable groups are facing additional challenges of higher food prices, the impact of the financial crisis and natural disasters. The Joint Programme worked with the government to reduce the prevalence of malnutrition among under-fives and to prevent future malnutrition. 

The programme focused on improving food security by increased production and consumption of safe quality food and targeted supplementation. This was both a short-term strategy to address current issues of malnutrition through breast feeding, iron and vitamin A supplementation, and a long-term strategy to provide a higher quality diet through improved food production systems, including animal (meat and milk) and aquaculture products.

The project was based on strengthened information and mapping systems, including nutritional sentinel surveillance, food security and early warning, and market information systems as well as enhanced capacity for data production, management and dissemination.

Specifically, the programme's goals were:

  1. Improving monitoring systems on food, health and nutrition status of mothers and children so that they can be used to guide food, health and nutrition-related policies, strategies and actions;
  2. Improving Infant and Young Child Feeding practices, including increasing compliance with the UNICEF/WHO guidelines on exclusive breastfeeding from 0-6 months and safe complementary feeding for children 6-24 months;
  3. Reducing micronutrient deficiencies in targeted children and women;
  4. Improving care and treatment for children with severe malnutrition and improving nutrition services for young children in emergency situations; and
  5. Improving the availability, access to and consumption of a more diverse food supply in selected highland and mountainous regions. 

Main achievements included:

  • During the duration of the programme, key national policy efforts were supported and fully completed, bringing Viet Nam to the forefront of the global effort to curb maternal and infant and young child malnutrition. Among the major national level results were:
    • Advertising Law, prohibiting the advertising of breast milk substitute products for children up to 2 years of age;
    • Maternity Protection: the extension of the maternity leave from four to six months, which allows women to sustain recommended Infant and Young Child Feeding practices, specifically exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life of the child. Vietnam is the only country in Asia that provides for six months of paid maternity leave.
    • National Nutrition Strategy 2011-2020, which incorporates new recommendations related to Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition (community and hospital based), Infant and Young Child Feeding Recommendations and Anemia prevention and control.
    • National Plan of Action on Infant and Young Child Feeding 2012-2015.
  • The programme strengthened the Management Information System by updating the National Nutrition Surveillance System with the integration of global Infant and Young Child Feeding indicators and micronutrients indicators. It also installed, set up and provided training for the Global Information and Early Warning System stations at the national level and in the participating provinces.
  • Modeling of key interventions were focused in six provinces, 19 districts and 171 communes. Among the initial key results was an increase in early initiation of breastfeeding in the six Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative hospitals from a baseline of 70% to 97%. In one province, exclusive breastfeeding increased from 0% to 12%. Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition was being implemented in nine hospitals and 28 Commune Health Centers, which helped detect and treat 741 severely malnourished children.
  • More than 1600 farmers were supported in the implementation of the Rice Integrated Crop Management models; other models, such as beans, sticky corn, fruits, vegetables, aquaculture and livestock, were also supported.
  • Farmers using the Rice Integrated Crop Management model showed a 30%-50% drop in the use of fertilizer and a 15%-20% increase in production. The vegetable model generated an additional income of 100,000 dong (USD 4.7) per day for its farmers, while the aquaculture model generated an additional USD 350 per year.
  • The programme improved the availability, access to and consumption of more diverse food through: the introduction of Farmer Field School for 350 farmers and demonstration sites in three provinces; promotion of the homestead food model for the target provinces, including fruit gardens and soy bean production; and the introduction of rice seed production models to farmers in disadvantaged areas.
  • Results of the programme on improvement of nutritional intake in agricultural production were used as good practices for the restructuring of the agriculture sector, informing the National Target Programme on New Rural Areas of the country.


Click for more detailed results from the Joint Programmes in Vietnam.



The Joint Programme in action


Programme Dates 26 Feb 2010 - 30 Jun 2013
Net funded amount $3,500,000
Participating UN agencies UNICEF, WHO, FAO
National partners Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
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