Nutrition week on cards

Kathmandu, November 12:

With the objective of helping reduce infant mortality rate across the nation by raising awareness on nutritious foods, the Nutrition Unit under the Child Health Division is going to organise the Nutrition Week from December 25 to 31.

It may be noted that though the government-launched nutrition programme has been continuing for 15 years, malnutrition among schoolgoing children continues unabated. ‘Nutritious Food for Healthy Growth and Development of Children’ is the theme of the campaign, which aims to achieve millennium development goal by reducing infant mortality throughout the country.

According to the Nepal Nutrition Status Survey, which was conducted in 1975, stated that over 50 per cent of schoolgoing children were malnourished then. Present situation is no different. Sarada Pandey, the chief at the Nutrition Section under the Child Health Division, said there is a misconception among most of the mothers that their milk is enough for nutrition. Some of them stop breast-feeding after six months with no adequate nutritious food.

According to various studies, malnutrition is rampant among babies aged between 6 months and two years of age.

“Most of the baby food contains liquid rather than solid food,” Pandey further said, adding that such foods are to blame for malnutrition among the children.

Malnutrition and five other diseases — pneumonia, measles, malaria and diarrhoea — are attributed to 60 per cent of deaths among children under five years of age.

“Mothers’ milk does not fill infants’ iron needs after six months,” Pandey said, adding: That is why we encourage mothers to feed their babies other dietary supplements.”

According to data provided by the MoHP, the prevalence of stunting in children of age group six months to 59 months has been reduced by just 15.3 percentage points over the last 23 years.

As part of the nutrition week, various programmes will be organised in district public health offices and health offices, primary health centres, health posts, ward offices, schools and non-governmental organisations and international non-governmental organisations.

“Methods of preparing nutritious food with locally available ingredients will be displayed,” Pandey said, adding that mothers will be educated on the importance of breast-feeding

and immunisation. “Underweight children will be sent to nutrition homes and will be treated if they are found to be suffering from other diseases.”

Dr Yasovardan Pradhan, the director at the Child Health Division, said the organisation of the Nutrition Week will help check child deaths caused by malnutrition. According to the Nutrition Week directives, babies over six months of age should be breastfed and given soft foods such as lito, jaulo and kheer twice daily. Children aged between seven and eight months should be fed well-ground food three times daily.