DUSHANBE, March 11, 2020 – The results of the Tajikistan Optima Nutrition study were presented and discussed at a National Nutrition Workshop. Optima Nutrition is a tool that can help governments to allocate their funds for nutrition programs more efficiently, helping efforts aimed at minimizing stunting, wasting, anemia, and under-five mortality rates across the country.
“Healthy nutrition must not be considered a luxury but an economic necessity: empirical studies are solid in finding that early nutrition programs raise adult wages by about 20 percent and the reduction in stunting can increase GDP by more than 10 percent,” said Jan-Peter Olters, World Bank Country Manager in Tajikistan. “In the context of tight budgetary resources, the Optima Nutrition tool increases the quality of related budget allocations and the efficiency of public spending on nutrition programs to the benefit of, specifically, women and children.”
Tajikistan was the first country selected globally for this new type of analysis. The Tajikistan Optima Nutrition analysis looked at 13 interventions currently implemented in Tajikistan that have a strong evidence of impact on nutrition. These include micronutrient and vitamin supplementation for children and pregnant women, treatment of diarrhea and severe malnutrition, and flour fortification.
The study sought to determine whether the impact of the national nutrition program on nutrition and health outcomes could be improved by shifting funding across different interventions and programs. Indeed, the results show that substantial improvements can be achieved by prioritizing supplementation for children and pregnant women, modern family planning methods, and flour fortification.
Improving the allocation of the current budget and prioritizing the interventions mentioned above could help to prevent about 1,200 cases of stunting, 7,000 anemia cases in children, and 18,000 anemia cases in pregnant women every year. Further improvements could be made with additional funding, if allocated appropriately.
Tajikistan has the youngest and fastest growing population in the Europe and Central Asia region. Every year, 250,000 children are born and one in every five persons are under six years of age. Nearly one-fifth of children under the age of five are stunted due to chronic undernutrition in early childhood. Most tangible improvements could be made by increasing the rate of children under six months that are breastfed exclusively beyond today’s 36 percent. Proper nutrition, among other interventions, is critical to ensuring that all children in Tajikistan reach their full development potential and become healthy and productive adults in the future.
The results of the Tajikistan Optima Nutrition analysis, expected to be finalized and available for dissemination in May 2020, indicate that improving efficiency through the proper prioritization of investments can improve substantially the performance of nutrition and health programs in Tajikistan.
The World Bank’s active portfolio in Tajikistan includes 15 projects, with net commitments of $741 million. The World Bank remains committed to supporting Tajikistan as it strives to improve the lives of its people and meet the aspirations of its young and growing population.