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SCI, Health Ministry sign MoU for better nutrition

Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Janaka Sugathadasa shaking hands with SCI Country Director Dr. Chris McIvor, while Estate and Urban Health Director Dr. Chulani Gunasekara and SCI Deputy Country Director Julian Chellppah look on.

Save the Children International (SCI) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Ministry (MOH) of Sri Lanka, with the participation of major officials from both institutions.

The foremost objective of this event was to detail the project’s goal of improving maternal and child nutrition in the tea estates of Sri Lanka and to define the paths in which the two major parties will work collaboratively in implementing the project to improve the nutritional status of women and children on tea estates during the first 1,000 days of life (the approximate period of time between the start of a pregnancy and a child’s second birthday).

Tea estates are the core focus area of the project, since they lag significantly behind on nutrition. As a result, the project is operating in four districts; Galle, Kandy, Matale, and NuwaraEliya; where the majority of tea estates are located. Within the project, SCI commits to ensure the improvement of quality of health and nutrition services to the estate community, to improve the awareness and demand for services and activities to improve nutrition, and many other obligations through the collective partnership with government health institutions, tea companies, and the communities.

The MOH commits to develop policies and strategies to address the issues faced by women and children in the estate sector and to work with the project to promote an increased awareness of estate families on the importance of ensuring an improved nutritional status during the first 1,000 days. It is hoped that, through this partnership between SCI and the MOH, important improvements could be made for the nutritional status of women and children on Sri Lankan tea estates.

The Good Nutrition on Tea Estates project is a three to four-year investment with a total budget of around 685,000,000 LKR (about $4.5 million USD), aimed at supporting several hundred tea estates. This project complements a broader portfolio of food security, emergency response, education, and child rights programmes at Save the Children. Save the Children has been working in Sri Lanka for the past 40 years and has been working in all parts of the country in these various programmatic areas.