Government Welcomes Support from UNICEF and Japan to Tackle Anaemia in Adolescent Girls

Fri. 15 of September of 2023, 11:45h

In a joint effort to improve the health and nutrition of Timorese adolescent girls, the Government of Timor-Leste, represented by the Vice-Minister for Institutional Strengthening in Health, José dos Reis Magno, officially welcomed eight million iron sulphate and folic acid supplement tablets from UNICEF on September 8th, 2023, with financial support from the Japanese Government.

These supplements are intended to improve the nutritional health of Timorese adolescent girls aged 12 to 16. The initiative, funded by the Government of Japan and implemented by UNICEF, aims to tackle anaemia. This condition affects 63 per cent of children under five and 32 per cent of adolescent girls aged between 14 and 19 in Timor-Leste.

Vice-Minister José dos Reis Magno expressed “his immense gratitude for the support of UNICEF and the Government of Japan for the efforts of the Government of Timor-Leste to improve the nutrition of adolescent girls” and emphasised that “this partnership demonstrates the effectiveness of cooperation in addressing critical health challenges”.

The distribution of iron sulphate and folic acid supplements will cover ninety-five thousand adolescents in several municipalities, including Covalima, Lautém, Liquiçá and Manufahi, and the Oe-Cússe Ambeno Special Administrative Region. Adolescent girls will have free access to these supplements in schools and at community awareness sessions held by members of the Maternity Support Groups.

This nutritional support is vital to prevent iron deficiency anaemia and its long-term consequences for the health of adolescent girls. Addressing the nutritional needs of teenage girls through weekly iron and folic acid supplementation supports the life cycle approach to reducing malnutrition. 377260263_688061366699434_4077808762187190716_n

Tetsuya Kimura, Japan's Ambassador to Timor-Leste, emphasised that “the 'first 1000 days', the days from conception until the child turns two, are the critical period in a person's life that can determine their whole life”.

UNICEF Representative in Timor-Leste, Bilal Aurang Zeb Durrani, stated that “this event represents our collective commitment to sustainable investments in the health, nutrition and well-being of adolescent girls, protecting them against all forms of malnutrition”.

The ceremony to hand out the supplements was attended by national directors from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, representatives from the diplomatic corps, the European Union, United Nations agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations.