Children’s program gets support

Joining President David Kabua and Health Minister Bruce Bilimon at the signing ceremony June 3 were, from left: Apo Myazoe (NRC), Luren Ading (WUTMI), Tanner Smith (Wellness Center), Abacca Anjain-Maddison (Deputy Chief Secretary), Jack Ading Jr., Lula Ading-Yamane, Fenice Riklon, Sage deBrum (CIA), Molly Helkena (National Advisor for ECD), Kate McDermott (PSS), Theresa Kijiner (PSS), and Rachel Bigler (MOHHS). Photo: Wilmer Joel.

A signing ceremony involving President David Kabua and Health Minister Bruce Bilimon was held June 3 at the Cabinet to advance the work of the Early Child Development program.

The two leaders are lending their support to the RMI effort to help bring awareness concerning children’s health and lifestyle in the Marshall Islands. The program involves multiple government ministries and non-government groups and is supported by both the World Bank and Unicef, the UN children’s organization.

Rachel Bigler, who is coordinating Early Childhood Development (ECD) activities at the Ministry of Health, told the Journal that Cabinet has endorsed establishment of a task force that will oversee the ECD program. The task force will include secretaries or managers for the involved stakeholders such as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Commerce, which is task force co-chair along with the Ministry of Health, WASH cluster, the ministries of Education and Culture and Internal Affairs, and EPA. NGOs are involved in the rollout of the initiative.

“The main goal is to improve overall nutrition specifically the ‘triple burden’ — obesity, stunting/under-nutrition, and micronutrient deficiencies — which have an alarming rate here in the RMI,” said Bigler.

Ten specific priority areas have been identified for the government to look into as the indicators for the next five years. The RMI government has committed to putting resources into activities that can improve the overall health concerns or support current projects relating to nutrition.

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