Save the Children's Good Nutrition on Tea Estates project welcomes the Ministry of Health's Secretary for Nutrition Month
Sri Lanka celebrates National Nutrition Month every June. This year, the Ministry of Health, together with Save the Children’s Good Nutrition on Tea Estates (GNoTE) project, conducted programs in the estate sector to promote awareness and encourage the adoption of optimal nutrition practices. This was a part of an ongoing campaign to raise awareness and ultimately improve nutrition practices among pregnant women, new mothers, and children on the country’s tea estates.
It has been seen that the tea estate communities in Sri Lanka have some of the poorest nutrition and health indicators in the country. The GNoTE project aims to combat this by supporting the Ministry of Health to improve the services provided by staff in the health clinics and crèches and to work with communities to help them make informed decisions about optimal nutrition practices. The project is also engaging the private sector, including the tea companies, to look for innovative approaches to reach these communities more regularly and more effectively.
The project’s ultimate goal is to improve the nutritional status of pregnant women and their young children. In order to achieve this, GNoTE is working with the government and the tea companies to ensure that quality nutrition services are being delivered consistently and in a quality manner, and that estate families are given every opportunity to take the necessary steps to improve their nutritional status. Save the Children believes that this multichannel approach will help spark a change within the communities to ensure that pregnant women and children are better fed and cared for - especially in the crucial first 1,000 days of a child’s life (from a woman’s pregnancy through to the baby’s second birthday).
As part of the engagement with the Government, the GNoTE team in Sri Lanka met and engaged with the Secretary for the Ministry of Health, Dr. Janaka Sugathadasa, in the tea growing region to conclude Nutrition Month in Sri Lanka. The Secretary participated in many activities involving interactions with mothers and children and attended an exhibition promoting healthy food for mothers and children in Sri Lanka. One grade 11 student who attended the nutrition fair in Kotagala mentioned how much she appreciated the fair and everything that she learned: "I will practice these things in my lifetime and I will share these good nutrition practices with my family, classmates, and community too." The program also included a Tamil language and cultural competency program for Sinhala-speaking public health midwives, and met many mothers and their children at several hospitals, clinics, and crèches around the Nuwara Eliya area. As part of its broader collaborative advocacy effort, Save the Children and the Government of Sri Lanka will use coordinated mass media and job aids as a part of their effort to raise awareness about breastfeeding, nutrition during pregnancy, and complementary feeding, some of which were launched during the Secretary’s visit.
The Ministry of Health unveils one of the billboards as part of the advocacy campaign at the Nuwara Eliya Office of the Regional Director of Health Services.
The Ministry of Health's Secretary visits a stand at the Nutrition Fair in Kotagala
Many school children attended the nutrition fair, which provided a wide range of information on nutrition and was staffed by government public health midwives and other health staff.