Uzbekistan’s Health Week campaign educates 6 million youths on proper nutrition

In view of the urgent need to raise awareness about proper nutrition in children, a national campaign called Health Week was conducted this spring in almost 10,000 schools throughout Uzbekistan.

From 30 April to 7 May, approximately 6 million children were educated about the importance of proper nutrition.

“All week, we have had interesting lessons about healthy food,” said Bakhodir Tuichiev, a fifth grader from School Number 3 in Fergana City. “We played games, had fun quizzes and took part in drawing and writing competitions.”

The series of educational initiatives was carried out by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Public Education of Uzbekistan, with support from UNICEF. During the campaign, educators throughout the country were trained and encouraged to use interactive activities to engage their students.

“After school I told my mother about the lesson,” said Bakhodir.

Surprising information

Elmira, a 10th grader from School Number 3, said she and her classmates were surprised by some of the knowledge they acquired during Health Week.

Our teacher gave us colorful leaflets explaining how eating bread made from flour which has not been fortified – or using salt without iodine – could make it much harder for us to study and learn well,” said Elmira. “It really made us think.”

Some 57 per cent of school-aged children in Uzbekistan reportedly have anaemia caused by iron deficiency, which may lead to a reduction in IQ. Iodine deficiency leaves newborns with a high risk of slow development.

More families must be reached

Two years ago, Uzbekistan implemented a national Flour Fortification Programme to help combat nutritional deficiencies and related health problems. While the programme has been successful, much of the country’s imported flour is still not fortified with iron. Health Week has helped to reach millions of families with vital information about using fortified flour.

“Our hope is to continue the effort to educate the public and replicate this positive trend in neglected topics such as un-iodized salt,” said the Communication and Marketing Officer for the National Flour Fortification Programme, Rustam Haydarov. “It is especially rewarding when you see both kids and teachers find health education fun and interesting.”