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Despite 3-decade long efforts reducing malnutrition yet a far cry

Published : Thursday, 25 April, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 715

Despite three decades of all out government efforts to eliminate country's malnutrition problem, the target of reducing malnutrition rate has not yet been achieved at the desired level.

According to the government data, number of under-5 stunt children has reduced to 36 per cent from 60 per cent while number of underweight children is 33 per cent. At the same time, number of overweight children has reached 24 per cent from only 9 per cent.

Due to the massive malnutrition problem, the country is losing around US$100 crore (equivalent to around Tk 8,400 crore) every year. In this situation, the government has taken several initiatives to resolve the problem and build a healthy nation, according to the Bangladesh National Nutrition Council, the authority working to eliminate the problem.

In this situation, the government is observing National Nutrition Week in the country from April 23 to April 29. With the support of 22 ministries concerned and the national and international partners, the week is being observed to create awareness among the people about nutrition.

The week aims to create awareness about the importance of nutrition for health which has an impact on development, productivity, economic growth and ultimately the national development.

In this situation, the council has given priority to taking initiatives including increasing budgetary allocations by 20 per cent for next three years to achieve the target. It has also suggested appointing separate nutrition officers in 64 districts, expanding the area of nutrition services and ensuring supply of standard products and Vitamin-A capsules in the country.
At a programme in Dhaka, BNNC Director General Dr Shah Newaj claimed on Wednesday that around 71 per cent demand of nutrition and 15 per cent demand of zinc is being fulfilled from rice. Although country's rice production has increased to around double, nutrition quality has not yet increased at the same level.

In Bangladesh, a huge number of children are dying every year. Around 50 per cent of those are dying due to malnutrition. Although Bangladesh is one of the most successful countries in tackling malnutrition, still one of every three children is taking birth as stunt, he said, adding that the government has taken initiatives to reduce malnutrition to build a healthy nation.

While talking to this correspondent, Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said getting food with proper nutritional values is the right of the people. The government has taken steps to ensure proper nutrition for the people including children. To ensure it, nutritious food grain including rice is being supplied in the market.

He said that they have already started supplying food grain with added nutrition values in the market, so that the people can afford those in lower prices. The steps of the government will help building a healthy nation in future.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, around 1.52 crore people out of Bangladesh's total population of 16.29 crore are under-5 children. Of the children, around 36 per cent, which is around 64 lakh, are stunted children. More than 33 per cent children are underweight. Around 97.7 per cent of Bangladesh's total populations are at risk of multiple hazards including cyclones, floods, draught, mud slide and flash floods, earthquake and water-logging.

Around 4 per cent of the people fall under the category of global acute malnutrition while 3 per cent severe acute malnutrition.
A latest report titled, 'World Food Security and Nutrition Situation, 2017' disclosed recently claimed that some 81.5 crore people in the world go to sleep hungry. The numbers of malnourished people is not less than 2.5 crore in Bangladesh. Of those, most are women and children. Although the overall food nutrition in the country has improved, natural calamities like floods, landslides and are having a detrimental effect on the nutrition situation.

The report claimed that Bangladesh has rapidly reduced stunted growth among children (aged under 5) to 36.1 per cent from 45 per cent over the period 2005 to 2016. However decrease in number of people suffering from malnutrition remains the lowest in South Asian countries, with India reducing to 14.5 per cent and Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Myanmar recording noteworthy progress. The country has largely achieved food self-sufficiency and peoples' incomes have grown steadily over the years.

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