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MALNUTRITION has emerged as a severe threat to children’s health in Bangladesh as it indirectly contributes to 50 percent of total child mortality in the country, experts say.
Around half of the children aged below five in Bangladesh are suffering from one or multiple sorts of malnutrition that is considered the underlying cause of child mortality.
If a child is deprived from exclusive breastfeeding properly before the age of six months and cannot get adequate complementary food or had repeated infections, the child will surely suffer from malnutrition.
So, experts encourage early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months to prevent child malnutrition.
The government has announced several commitments to prevent child mortality in Bangladesh.
Emphasizing breastfeeding, one of the commitments said, “Engage multi sectoral approach to ensure exclusive breastfeeding of children up to six months and complementary feeding practices after the age of six months.”
Raising awareness among the people is a must to ensure breastfeeding to infants, nutrition experts say.
Besides, Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) also contributes to child mortality.
If a SAM-victim child is infected by any disease, the child’s body fails to control and prevent it. If the child does not get proper treatment, s/he succumbs to the disease, said Dr Ahmed Shafiqur Rahman, Associate Scientist of ICDDR,B.
So, proper treatment should be arranged at every hospital across the country and all the physicians at hospitals and clinics should be provided with proper training to address the problem, he said.
Dr Rahman stressed the need for ensuring best practices in Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) and ensuring food security to prevent child malnutrition.
Besides, the government has already initiated the National Nutrition Services (NNS) to be continued till June 2016 to reduce child undernutrition.
The programme has 20 prioritized objectives among which improvement of IYCF practices, community and facility based treatment of malnutrition, community based nutrition (CBN), prevention and treatment of micronutrient deficiencies stand at the top.
As Bangladesh bears the burden of a large number of malnourished children, it may affect the country’s economic progress because these children grow up with low capacity of productivity and slow cognitive development, experts viewed.
The government will set up Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) corner at 130 upazilas across the country in next December to give treatment to SAM-affected children, said Dr. Ekhlasur Rahman, Director of the Institute of Public Health Nutrition (IPHN).
Besides, many government doctors have been trained up and 39 SAM centres have been set up to provide treatment to these children, he added.