Hunza News

Prevent Malnutrition.

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[author image=”” ]Saadia Khan A paediatric resident at the Children’s Hospital and Institute of Child Health, Multan, she has a keen interest in preventative paediatric medicine and community work, and tweets as@drkhanchc ([/author]

Incident at Thar is a hot debate now a day’s locally as well as internationally, the number of death in children with malnutrition are increasing day by day and only God knows real fact and figures.

Malnutrition covers a group of diseases and includes under nutrition, obesity and overweight, and micronutrient and macronutrients deficiencies. However, it is frequently used to mean under nutrition from either inadequate calories or inadequate specific dietary components. Pakistan has an alarmingly high level of malnutrition;

According to NNS 2011, 15.1% children were wasted and 43.7 % were stunted and 31% were underweight. This is an alarming situation. Scenario regarding  the availability of food for children may be not as worse as we think of it but major contributor for  children malnutrition are  firm belief ,myth s and taboos that our society has inherited generations after generation. The lack of knowledge, lack of primary health care, and preventive health services contributes a lot. Government can save million of rupees that it spending for the management of communicable diseases by simply promoting health awareness and education.

Malnutrition in a child starts with the start of pregnancy there is a long list of Do s and Don’ts with the selective menu for pregnant women.

Lentils, pulses, corns vegetables like cabbage, egg plant, potatoes are often omitted with a fear of Baadi diet. Similarly milk, oil, butter beef, mangoes are not allowed due t o fear of Garm food and fear of causing miscarriage or preterm delivery by these food stuffs.

This is not a story of woman at Multan only food fear is same whether you are at Multan, or Quetta. These non -nutritious restricted calories dietary plan are mostly made by mothers or mothers –in-laws. So, how can you expect a healthy baby by a woman on such a restricted calories, result is miscarriage, intra uterine growth retarded baby, or low birth child.

Mother has to follow same diet plan after delivery and issues of no mother feed or little mother feed are there.

Prelacteal feed in the form of Ghutti is always there but no one bothered to counsel mother for breast feeding. People love to give powder milk; the issues of poor dilution with powder or cow’s milk are always there. As t o afford it not an easy thing or it will give a lot of financial stress. Feed is given in feeders in the form of Lassi that gives nothing more than the false sense of security that it will aid your child to thrive well and result is baby landed in hospitals with complaint of failure to thrive.

Same is the issue with the initiation of complementary feed; the issue of thanda  garam and pneumonia with rice milk without dilution and yogurt are always there.

More amazing is why these homemade nutritious food stuff causes pneumonia? Why no one hesitated to give commercially available cereals to children. Who has motivated mothers of this era to give commercially available diets that chips sweet candies, biscuits and Rusk to children? Why the diet plan of our children rotates around feeders, cereal chips and biscuits in spite of homemade rich  calories food stuff. We belong to third world country but one powder milk all of us know is the milk brand of our nation and commercially available cereal is complementary diet for all of our children with no distinction of rich or poor.

These are some bitter realities we are dealing with daily at  hospitals while dealing with children with severe  malnutrition .Believe we do not  do some miracles with patients we just counsel them about breast feeding ,proper initiation of complementary diet, hygiene and immunization and gets very fruitful results at follow ups. I have number of success stories of malnourished children but like to share the story of Hifza, wasted, weak emaciated little 6 months girl presented to us with complaint of failure to thrive, just by her mother proper guidance breast feeding was established, and proper initiation of complementary feed done, education on hygiene and immunization was given and her mother’s rigid beliefs against breastfeeding and complementary diets were tackled. She is now on a road to good health.

Key message is management of malnutrition and treatment of its complications is not an easy job but prevention of malnutrition is very easy, it can be done by adopting 4 simple things.

1-Breast fed your child with in half to an hour of delivery and continues up to 2 year.

2-Select homemade complementary diets such as rice, banana, yogurt after 4-6 month of age for your child.

3- Get your child immunized.

4-Adapt good hygiene as it will aid your child to get rid of infections.

Your child needs a little food, love and care; give it as they are our future. Prevent malnutrition.




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