‘Nutrient deficiencies high among women’

Kathmandu, August 30

About a quarter of women of reproductive age and as many children in Nepal suffer from acute deficiency of zinc, a key micro nutrient element, lack of which could cause malnutrition and stunting.

Report prepared by Nepal National Micro-nutrient Status Survey painted a grim picture of the health of children and women of various age groups suffering from acute lack of various micro nutrient elements.

The report made public by the Ministry of Health and Population yesterday also shows that 28 to 29 per cent of children and women in mountain region suffered from zinc deficiency.

Zinc deficiency makes people highly vulnerable to diseases.

Similarly, 20 per cent of children and 40 per cent of women of reproductive age are affected by a virus called Helicobacter pylori (H pylori), a major source of health hazards like peptic ulcer and womb cancer. H pylori also causes stomach ache, vomiting and gastritis.

According to the report, 12 per cent of women and 16 per cent of adolescent girls are at risk of folate deficiency in the country.

Folate deficiency is caused by lack of folic acid in blood. The acid helps to make red blood cells in body. Lack of RBC is called anaemia.

Above 28 per cent of children, 18 per cent of adolescent girls, 19 per cent women of reproductive age lack another micro-nutrient element iron.

Fourteen per cent pregnant women, 11 per cent children between the ages of six to 59 months, eight per cent women of reproductive age and seven per cent adolescents are suffering from iron deficiency.

Four per cent children and three per cent women of reproductive health were found suffering from vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency is one of the major causes of blindness among children and diarrhoeal diseases.

The report also showed that 32 per cent of children between 10 and 19 years of age suffered from stunting and 23 per cent of boys and 14 per cent of girls were wasted.

A child who does not grow well and is too short for his/her age is called stunting, while child who does not have adequate weight in comparison to his/her height is called wasted. Similarly, nine per cent of children were overweight and one per cent of them obese.

Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population Pushpa Chaudhary said, “Although we have achieved positive change in the health of women and children over the last decade, the new report has given us definitive way to draft new national policies and programmes to improve the health of women and children.”

The report was conducted among 12,512 children and women of 4,320 households representing 73 districts. The report was prepared with the financial support of UNICEF Nepal, US Aid and  European Union Nepal.