Milk supplementation programme improves nutrition
-- survey among nursery students finds

Guyana Chronicle
March 1, 2003

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A SURVEY among nursery school students has found that a milk supplementation programme done last year improved their nutrition and reduced the incidence of malnutrition among the group.

The Guyana Dairy Development Programme (GDDP) this week presented the results to show the effects of the milk supplementation programme on the nutrition status of nursery school children of three schools in Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice).

The three nursery schools are Novar, Airy Hall and Calcutta Nursery.

Nutritionist, Ms. Yvette De Freitas presented the results to a gathering at Novar Primary School, Mahaicony on Tuesday.

The milk supplementation programme was conducted from February to

December 2002.

The GDDP, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Partners of the Americas implemented and conducted the milk supplementary and nutrition study.

The main focus of the programme was to decrease malnutrition and increase dairy production through using more locally produced milk.

The project used locally produced pasteurised milk from the

Dantzig Dairy Plant for the three schools because they are near to the plant.

The Dantzig milk plant was commissioned on Valentine's Day 2002.

It was constructed with funding from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

The initiative was intended to utilise and add value to cow's milk while extending the shelf life of local milk.

Strawberry, chocolate, vanilla and natural flavours of pasteurised milk are produced from the plant.

The milk is now available at local supermarkets.

The three schools in the Mahaicony area were selected because of the high number of malnourished cases reported by the Health Centre serving the area.

Some 273 cases of malnutrition were reported at the time of the study.

The project allowed for each child to consume a 250-millilitre pouch of milk every day during its duration.

The students of the three schools were not given any milk through the School Feeding Programme by the Ministry of Education during the milk supplementation scheme.

The most important finding of the study was that the daily supplementation of a child's diet with 250-millilitres of flavoured, sweetened and local milk significantly reduced malnutrition and generally improved the nutritional status of the study population.

It was noted that there was a 69.4 per cent reduction in malnutrition rates when the group was assessed by the weight for height indicator while a 75 per cent reduction was noted when the assessment was conducted with the weight for age indicator.

The results of the study show that milk was readily accepted by the children.

The findings highlighted that the strawberry-flavoured milk was preferred by the majority of school children.

The distribution of milk at the three schools has also reduced casual absenteeism.

The results have also shown that parents collected milk even when their children were absent from school. (GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AGENCY - GINA)

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