Issue needs immediate intervention
South Asia remains the epicenter of the global child wasting and stunting crises. Severe wasting comprises the ability of children to grow and develop to their full potential, contributing to stunned growth and cognitive depicts as well as increased mortality risk. The costs of inaction to families and nation has been considerable as stunned children earn 20 per cent less as adults as compared to non stunned constraining economic growth across the region.
A regional workshop to identify actions to accelerate progress in the care of severely wasted children which affects about 8 million children in South Asia was held in May this year jointly by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to identify actions to accelerate progress in the care of severely wasted children. It was the first time that the government representatives, UN partners and civil society organizations from across South Asia came together to exchange regional analyses, expertise and experiences on addressing the wasting in the context of overall nutrition programming.
As per UNICEF Bhutan have more than 2,100 children under the age of five who are severely wasted. Of the above only four percent receives standard treatment. During the 12Th Five Year Plan Bhutan has set the targets for wasting to less than 4.3 per cent and stunning to 15 percent as priority to improve the potential of human capital in the long term. Towards achieving these targets a national multi sectoral strategic plan with adequate budget commitments for the key nutrition inventions is being finalized.
As remarked by the SAARC secretary general the long term strategic goals investing in the capacity of the communities, community based organization and civil society groups to identify and address under nutrition within the communities is a must for a collective approach to nutrition in South Asia. This will lead a long way in unlocking the potential of this generation and the next.
The first priority is to improve the diet of the mother before and during pregnancy, actions to support breast feeding and improve the food of the young children amongst others.
Bhutan has focused only on facility based care. However it has been suggested that for the purpose of future researches the focus should be on exploring home based administration of culturally appropriate and locally developed ready to use therapeutic food to initiate community based care approaches.
Heath officials claim that poverty, illiteracy and unwillingness to visit heath center where there are not enough female nurses makes rural women more shy in seeking medical help.
We need to address these issues immediately soon as we cannot afford to have our children stunted and wasted.