A balanced diet and reasonable intake are essential for a healthy life. As a living organism, human need to eat and drink. Moreover ,mental stability ,learning capability, physical fitness , immunity, fertility, growth and development, are all closely dependent on a healthy diet. However,malnutrition is a serious issue on a global scale.Various forms of malnutrition and unhealthy eating habits have become one of the factors leading to the spread of many acute and chronic diseases. In order to improve the nutritional health of the people, the government has put a lot of effort into the nutrition policy.
Incorporating WHO Recommendations to Strengthen the Accessibility of Nutrition Information
When it comes to the nutrition policy, Taiwan government actively amends malnutrition in women and children while preventing children from over-nutrition by building up a supportive environment. According to the research done by the Health Promotion Administration of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, The ROC government provides 10 subsidies for prenatal examination. The check-up includes maternal nutrition information, psychological adjustment counseling, breastfeeding and other information during pregnancy. The World Health Organization (WHO) released the “Prenatal Care Recommendations—Positive Pregnancy Experience” guide in 2016. It is recommended that pregnant women have at least 8 visits (inspections) with health care providers during pregnancy. As for pregnant women in Taiwan, the average utilization rate of pre-inspection is over 94.7%; the rate of women having at least one inspection is over 97%. The utilization rate of this service is high, proving that the promotion of the policy is a success.
In the aspect of breastfeeding, the Health Promotion Administration of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, in consultation with WHO and UNICEF: “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding,” promoted by the Maternal and Child Friendly Hospitals. This is to include and enforce breastfeeding as part of the conventional medical and health care environment. Which will give the best start to life for every newborn. The Maternal and Child Friendly Hospital will promote and implement breastfeeding policies through the education of medical staff and by banning the provision of non-medical formula. In 2016, the rate of pure breastfeeding of newborns under six months was about 45%. In addition, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Labor have set up a number of breastfeeding friendly workplaces, and established policies for breastfeeding (or breast pumping) during working hours.
High Proportion of Double-income Families—School Lunch Becomes Crucial
The school lunch is an important source of nutrition for children. According to the Ministry of Education, there are currently more than 2 million elementary and secondary school students eating lunch provided by school every day. Taiwan has promoted the nutritious lunch policy for over 20 years. In response to changes in the social environment, the family economic structure is mostly double-income based. Which means both parents has to go to work. Thus, preparing lunch for the children is impossible. Therefore, the school’s “dining hall” has played a pivotal role.
For educational institutions below middle school level, the proportion of schools that provides lunch for students are over 95%. And these schools have a dietitian to look after the lunch quality. The government provides a budget of 2.1 billion NTD each year to subsidize the cost of lunch and nutrition education, and has an assessment procedure to ensure that students can get enough nutrition through nutritious lunches to avoid growth and developmental problems. Through the cooperation between the ministries and departments to strengthen the safety of the school’s lunch ingredients, the authorities of education, health and agricultural departments jointly supervise the school lunch suppliers.
Overseas Humanitarian Assistance Improved the Nutrition Program
Eastern Visayas is one of the poorest areas in the Philippines. The prevalence of malnutrition among children under five years of age is incredibly high, and nutrition improvement becomes a major topic internationally. The Taiwan Foundation for International Cooperation and Development carried out humanitarian assistance and launched the “Philippine Children’s Nutrition Integration Action Plan” to assist children under the age of 5 in the 35 villages of Leyte and Samar provinces to be properly fed and enhance their nutritional status. The plan also sets to increase the accessibility of local families (including children) to health and nutrition services. In hope to help them improve the breastfeeding situation; to provide training in child care, public and personal hygiene; to help malnourished children to return to normal physical standards; and, to build health stations and repair old health stations.
In addition, from 2016 to 2018, the “Palau Horticultural Production and Nutrition Enhancement Program” was implemented. Due to factors such as westernization of diet and insufficient intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, health issues such as malnutrition and obesity surfaced. The problem may be related to factors such as cheaper food imports, low fruits and vegetables productivity, inadequate eating habits, and misconceived health concepts. Since the problems mentioned above are not likely to be solved in a short period of time. To continuously construct the vegetable habits of the nationals and continue to produce local fruits and vegetables in a fragile island environment, and achieve the vision of improving healthy nutrition, this three-year plan is opting to start at educational level. In order to achieve the goal of a sustainable approach step by step, the plan consists of training students in vegetable cultivation and healthy nutrition, and developing a variety of fruit and vegetable production techniques in the farms.
Food photo created by freepik