Malnutrition, an entrenched problem

Malnutrition is common among young children in developing countries. Often it is caused by poor infant weaning practices.

Related to a study made by UNICEF in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2011, an estimated 165 million children under five years of age worldwide were stunted (i.e., low height-for-age), a decrease from an estimated 253 million similar children in 1990. High prevalence levels of stunting among children under five years of age in Africa (36% in 2011) and Asia (27% in 2011) remain a public health problem, one which often goes unrecognized. In 2011, an estimated 101 million children under five years of age worldwide were underweight (i.e., low weight-for-age), a decrease from an estimated 159 million similar children in 1990. Although the prevalence of stunting and underweight among children under five years of age worldwide have decreased since 1990, overall progress is insufficient and millions of children remain at risk. Often, this high level of malnutrition in these early years is caused by poor infant weaning practices.

The Republic of The Gambia, situated on the western coast of Africa, forms a narrow enclave in the Republic of Senegal except for a short seaboard on the Atlantic coastline. The population, very young, is now predominantly urban. Nevertheless agriculture remains a key sector of The Gambia’s economy and is the source of livelihood for more than three-quarters of the population. Economic performance has improved, but as yet, this has not translated into reduced poverty, which remains widespread and severe, with about 60% of the population below the poverty line.

Although a slight improvement has been observed since 2000, infant and under-five mortality rates remain high. A high maternal mortality ratio is also observed. Access to health facilities is relatively good, but poor quality of services reduces the effectiveness of the health system. Nevertheless, immunization coverage among children is expanding.

Nutrition Without Borders NGO is aware of this situation and this is why they are presenting this project in Worldcoo’s website. This project is part of the context of an overall strategy to reduce morbidity and mortality caused by maternal and child malnutrition in the same region (206.588 inhabitants and 22% of child malnutrition).

Source: WHO, FAO, UNICEF.

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