AMMAN — The Ministry of Health, together with several UN agencies and other humanitarian partners, is increasing its response to improve the nutritional situation of Syrian families in Jordan, which continues to be a source of concern, according a UNICEF statement issued on Tuesday.

“The overall measures put in place include screening and treatment for acute malnutrition, support to vulnerable mothers and caretakers on proper feeding practices, prevention and treatment of micronutrient deficiencies amongst children under the age of five and awareness messages to promote positive health seeking behaviour,” the statement said.

The move follows a report issued by UN agencies and Save the Children Jordan assessing the nutritional status of 1,260 Syrian households living in the Zaatari Refugee Camp and in host communities across Jordan at the end of 2012.

According to the report, 5 to 6 per cent of young children aged between six and 59 months, and pregnant and lactating women are suffering from acute malnutrition, the statement said.

It shows little difference in the prevalence amongst children in the host communities (5.1 per cent) and in the Zaatari camp (5.8 per cent).

“For the malnourished pregnant and lactating mothers the difference is also minimal” whether they live in host communities (6.3 per cent) or in Zaatari (6.1 per cent), the statement said.

“While the situation is not at alarming levels, humanitarian agencies have taken immediate actions to avoid further deterioration,” it added.

“We need to maintain a prevention approach to malnutrition as the difficult living conditions are putting at risk infants as well as pregnant and lactating mothers,” the statement quoted Dominique Hyde, the UNICEF representative to Jordan, as saying.

“The nutrition situation of Syrian refugees in Jordan, while not yet serious, could deteriorate with this protracted humanitarian emergency and many of these refugees are exhausting their savings, if indeed they came with any,” said Jonathan Campbell, the World Food Programme’s emergency coordinator for the Syria Refugee Operation in Jordan.

Jordan is currently hosting over 300,000 Syrian refugees.