Ministry of Finance, May 5th, 2022, 2:30 p.m.
Excellency Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
Excellency Vice Minister and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
Distinguished Members of the Government
Excellency United Nations Resident Coordinator in Timor-Leste
Distinguished Members and Representatives of United Nations Specialized Agencies (UNICEF, WHO, WFP, FAO, among others)
Distinguished Members and Representatives of the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished Members and Representatives of the Bilateral and Multilateral Cooperation Agencies
Ladies and Gentlemen
We all recognise that good nutrition habits, with a balanced and healthy diet, are fundamental for our citizens’ good growth and development, especially children, adolescents, and young people.
These good habits should be promoted by parents from the moment the household is established, who should take responsibility for providing nutritious food for all family members, and paying special attention to Mothers and newborn babies.
Good family nutrition reduces the risk of contracting diseases and improves the conditions for healthy physical and psychological growth.
It also promotes appropriate conditions for good productivity in various socio-economic activities, namely in learning, knowledge acquisition, and empowerment at work, ensuring better results throughout the different stages of life.
It was with these concerns in mind that the 8th Constitutional Government decided to prioritise Nutrition in its Government program, in line with the Food Security commitments made by the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) and aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on Fighting Hunger and Poverty, which represent the main factors for the prevalence of malnutrition in our society.
Concerns that I took on, as President of the Republic, in 2012 and which continue to date, under the motto of “Investing in Nutrition, for people’s good health, education and productivity”.
An investment justified by international and national statistics showing that:
- One in three people suffers from malnutrition: affecting 667 million children under 5 years of age, whose prevalence in Timor-Leste was 24.9% in 2018 and which we wish to reduce to 0% by the year 2030;
- 151 million children suffer from Stunting and chronic malnutrition caused by lack of nutrients, the prevalence of which in Timor-Leste was 47.1% in 2020 and which we want to reduce to 25.1% by 2030;
- 51 million children suffer from Rickets and skeletal body children, whose prevalence in Timor-Leste reached 8.6% in 2020 and which we wish to reduce to 3.0% by 2030;
- 38 million children suffer from levels of Childhood Obesity, whose prevalence in Timor-Leste reached 1.2% in 2020 and which should not exceed 1.5% by 2030.
At a time when the world has exceeded 7 billion inhabitants and we are witnessing, on one hand, an increase in the number of people lacking micronutrients and calories and, on the other, an increase in the number of people suffering from obesity and diabetes, who are subject to increased risk of mortality and low productivity rates, it is important that Timor-Leste continues to adopt practical and concrete measures, involving all sectors of society, individuals, families, the authorities, civil society organisations and development partners, in a true spirit of Food Community for better Nutrition and Food Security.
Measures that led us to adopt a National Nutrition Strategy (2014-2019), a National Policy for Food Security and Nutrition (2017), a National Action Plan against Hunger and Malnutrition (2015-2024), and a National Consolidation Action Plan for Food Security and Nutrition (CNAP FNS 2020) under the aegis of KONSSANTIL, as an inter-ministerial and intersectoral strategic body, composed of public and private entities, with representatives of development partners and civil society entities, both national and international;
Measures that justified Timor-Leste’s accession, in October 2020, to the SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) Movement and that, under the leadership of H.E. the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Engineer António Guterres, also justified our participation last year in the CPLP Summit in Luanda and in the Preparatory Summit in Rome (Italy), which culminated in the World Summit on the Food System, in New York, in September 2021 and the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit in December 2021.
Measures that, by focusing on the existing relationship between nutrition and health, are broadened today with the launch of the National Strategic Plan for Nutrition in the Health Sector for 2022 to 2026, which will certainly reinforce the results we intend to obtain in this area.
Practical measures that benefit from our monitoring, attention, and constant follow-up, and are reflected in regular surveys to collect data and update knowledge on Food and Nutrition, whose 2020 Survey Final Report we are pleased to publicly disclose to the media and civil society.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The Final Results of the 2020 Food and Nutrition Survey, which we present today, demonstrate the commitment and dedication of the combined efforts gathered in KONSSANTIL, but also indicate the hard work that lies ahead in human development to achieve, among others, the goal of SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) by the year 2030.
A report that highlights the major weaknesses of the national nutrition system, with comparative figures higher than those of our neighbors in the South-East Asian or Pacific Region, where better rates are found in the fight against child malnutrition, stunting, and rickets;
This points to the particular risks affecting our women, especially pregnant women and mothers, who are more prone to anemia, which can have negative repercussions on the quality of breast milk for newborns; and
Which warns on the need to consolidate our resources and efforts to invest more in school meals, maternal and child health, diet diversification with better, more adequate, and balanced nutrients, according to the best international practices and food fortification, etc as foreseen in the National Consolidation Action Plan for Food Security and Nutrition (CNAP FNS 2020).
Research that, by highlighting the importance of nutrition for the public health of our citizens, can serve as a basis for planning evidence-based interventions that are more sensitive to the nutritional needs of each municipality or region, to contribute to reducing mortality rates, with better results among risk groups (with morbidities), women and children.
Ladies and Gentlemen
We are certain that with the partnerships established and the launch of the Strategic Plan that is materialising today in the health sector, we will be able to take concrete steps towards the transformation of the national nutrition system.
Despite the post-pandemic COVID-19 adverse environment, the difficulties and challenges emerging from the war in Ukraine, and the inflationary pressure on food prices, the Government maintains its confidence in the future, and its determination to invest in this important national endeavour for the coming years.
In 2019, US$ 44 million was allocated for Nutrition activities. In 2020 the amount was reinforced with US$ 56 million from the COVID-19 Fund. In 2021 we allocated US$ 68 million under the Economic Recovery and Stimulus Package. This year we have again increased the amount by US$ 117 million, including the activities of the Basic Food Basket Program, which will increase the resilience of the country and give a strong boost to the efforts of this Government to create a better future for the Timorese.
We will continue to invest following the Multi-sectoral National Action Plan (CNAP-NFS 2021), by acting on the causes that constrain the progress of Food and Nutrition Security, so that they become increasingly accessible to all, leaving no one behind.
To this end, we will continue to Transform the Agricultural System so that it becomes more modern, sustainable, environmentally friendly, and geared towards the need to eradicate hunger;
We will also focus on Reducing Waste by ensuring that food gets to those who need it most; and
We will look for Resilience Mechanisms in Families to ensure a stable source of income and a better distribution network and access to food markets;
Without forgetting to invest in dissemination and socialisation as key factors in promoting a Healthy and Balanced Diet.
Actions that cannot and should not be taken only by Governments or Authorities, but in the spirit of the Food Community involving the participation of all, including citizens as consumers, economic operators, and the different development partners, in search of new paradigms for the World Health Assembly, scheduled for 2025.
In this spirit of the food community, we are today holding the Launch of the Final Results of the Survey and the Launch of the National Strategic Plan for Nutrition in the Health Sector.
I take this opportunity to thank all participants, individual and collective, national and international, for accepting the invitation to participate in this ceremony.
I would also like to thank the staff, technicians, experts, and entities involved in the preparation of these documents, at the Ministry of Health or within KONSSANTIL.
For a Timor-Leste with Zero Hunger!
For a healthier country, with well-nourished people!
May God bless us all!