EDITORIAL: Nutrition for health

As malnutrition is a serious health problem we should take concerted action so that no one is deprived of nutritious food essential for health and ultimately survival

Realizing the severity of malnutrition and food security the National Planning Commission had brought forth the Nutrition Campaign in 2012 coordinating with various government ministries. The plan envisaged a 20 percent reduction in malnutrition among children and pregnant women. But the target has not been met with reports pouring in that malnutrition among children aged lower than five years this year are higher compared to previous years. Malnutrition afflicts mostly new borns, children, adolescents and pregnant and breast feeding mothers. Babies born by mothers who are malnourished are regarded to be the main reason for the early death of children. A survey carried out in 2011 revealed that 12 percent of the children are born under weight. Although in recent years the child mortality rate has decreased as they have access to health care and effective immunization there is no room to be satisfied as the latest available figures suggest.

One out of 20 children die from malnutrition every year before they reach one year and one out of 16 before they are five years old. It is not only the young children who are malnourished but also adolescents who require more nourishing food as they are in the growing stage. Surveys also show that 71 per cent of the boys and 59 per cent of the girls are malnourished. However, the figure of the malnourished remained the same in both urban and rural areas. Malnutrition is also higher in the Tarai than in the hilly and mountain regions.  Adolescents, as such, are more prone to anemia when they are malnourished with 35 percent of them being afflicted  with this disease.

This calls for immediate remedial measures to provide nutritious food particularly for those who need them and suffer as a result. It is advised to eat nutritious food like green vegetables and fruits. These should be made easily available so that all can avail of such food. Moreover, it is essential to provide information to all about the necessity of partaking of nutritious food. There is a glaring absence of training that should be imparted for maternity health and children nutrition to reach the actual victims which is the case so far. For the nutrition campaign to succeed we need to ensure that nutritious food is easily available to all. So far the measures to do so have proved to be unsuccessful for they are yet to be enforced in earnest. This calls for more innovative schemes. Many people are not aware of the benefits of a balanced died as a result of which they are malnourished. In its severe form, malnutrition can cause death and also many serious diseases. We need to raise awareness among the people about the benefits of nutritious food. For the campaign to succeed we still have a long way to go as many of those who are malnourished live below the poverty line and hence are unable to afford nutritious food. We should therefore take up the challenge to ensure such food for all. As malnutrition is a serious health problem affecting many we should take concerted action so that no one is deprived of nutritious food essential for health and survival.

Park for tourism

The Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve has been converted into a national park with a view to promoting tourism in the far-western Tarai district of Kanchanpur. The reserve was converted into a national park 42 years after its establishment as a hunting reserve covering an area of 300-sq. k.m. which is  home to a large number of swamp deer and Royal Bengal tiger.

The government recently decided to change its status in response to demand of the local people who want to reap benefits from the tourism business. It is expected that a large number of people from Nepal and neighbouring India will visit the park to observe the wildlife, especially the tigers and swamp deer. As per the existing law, no tourism or business activities are allowed close to the reserve areas. The park area, however, is open for tourism purpose. The government decided to change the status of Suklaphanta Reserve as a national park after the population of the swamp deer increased due to rigorous conservation efforts put there for years. Officials have said excess population of the swamp deer will also be relocated in other parks to maintain their population. But the local community needs skills and expertise to do tourism business.