Cause for the decline in child nutrition
Sri Lankan children under five years are increasingly showing symptoms of chronic malnutrition including underweight (21%), stunting (17.3%) and wasting (14.7%).
Health officials warn mothers of inadequate breastfeeding and they highlight that improper complementary feeding are the main causes for the decline in child nutrition. Chronic malnutrition can lead to repetitive infections and even cause death before a child reaches its fifth birthday.
Optimal complementary feeding is the solution to this problem through which the negative conditions could be reversed by applying good complementary feeding practices. This approach would facilitate healthy growth and development, said Dr. P. G. Maheepala, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health at a media seminar held at the Health Education Bureau, titled “Right Food at the Right Time Makes My Baby Well and Wise”.
The Country Representative of UNICEF, Reza Hossaini commended Sri Lanka for its rapid strides in child health, but noted that child malnutrition could adversely affect the future productivity of the nation unless it was not addressed immediately. He praised the efforts of the government, but stated that the sstatements and advertisements made through electronic media are mostly responsible in aggravating the situation of non-communicable diseases and malnutrition among Sri Lankan people, especially infants and children.
According to him though Sri Lanka has gained a considerable progress in regard to preventing infant/ children’s diseases and deaths during the past few decades, the country has not been able to achieve the expected development in infant/child nutrition.
Hossaini stated; “If we are not keen towards the growth of infant/child nutrition, we cannot reduce the country’s malnutrition. Advertisements and promotion of fast foods, artificial beverages/sweets and junk foods through electronic media are causing havoc and increasing the status of malnutrition and non-communicable diseases. In most of the countries such promotions/advertisements are banned and it should happen in Sri Lanka too.”
Dr. Hiranya Jayawickrema, Consultant Community Physician, Family Health Bureau spoke on Current Recommendations for Complementary Feeding.
- Asian Tribune -