Micronutrients Deficiency Threatens Nepal Infants

Experts urge authorities to pay attention to areas such as drinking water, sanitation and provision of quality food
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Micronutrients Deficiency Threatens Nepal Infants

In an alarming revelation for Nepal, nearly 21 percent of the country’s children suffer from zinc deficiency.

A report released by Nepal National Micronutrient Status Survey (NNMSS) on August 29,2018 indicates a negative trend in the early growth of children between the age groups of 6 and 59 months.

This has a high chance of stunting children’s growth and makes them vulnerable to diseases such as diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.

Dr. Santosh Manandhar, paedriatician at Kanthi Children’s Hospital says breastfeeding up to a certain age is a must for children’s overall growth.

“A child experiences a deficiency of micronutrients such as zinc if they are not fed proper nutritional diets such as mother’s milk. The chances of stunting, hypogonadism and poor immunity in a child are high due to such deficiency.”

Health experts identify unhealthy diet and lifestyle as responsible for the deficiency of micronutrients. However, figures suggest that people with access to healthy diet and lifestyle also suffer micronutrient deficiency.

Drinking water, sanitation and provision of quality food are essential to fight the deficiency of micronutrients. Hence, experts urge authorities to pay attention to these areas.

Following are the detailed findings of the report:

  • In the age-group of 6-59 months, 28 percent children living in the mountains were identified with zinc deficiency. Followed by 23 percent in the hills and 18 percent in the Tarai region
  • Helicobacter Pylori is found in Nepali children and women. 20 percent of the children between 6 to 59 months and 40 percent of non-expectant women between 15-49 years have H Pylori infection. This can cause ulcer and even stomach cancer
  • There is a lack of iron among children between 6 to 59 months. 19 percent had anemia, 28 percent had iron deficiency and 11 percent are suffering with iron deficiency anemia.
  • Anemia was highly visible in expectant women between 15-49 years compared to non-expectant women

The government will use this report as reference to implement various nutrition plans across the country.

“The health of children and women should not be ignored at any cost. The NNMSS report will be of great help in making further plans and policies,” said Surendra Kumar Yadav, State Minister, Ministry of Health and Population.

What do Experts Say?
“Minimizing the deficiency of micronutrients is only possible with multi-sectoral approach. The government should have a holistic approach to dealing with problems in corresponding sectors like sanitation, water, and livestock,” said Dr Sushil Nath Pyakurel, Chief Specialist, Ministry of Health and Population.

“Nepalis have easy access to food items rich in micronutrients because of our diverse and rich agricultural produce in all the geographic regions. Yet, people fail to eat regularly these quality foods due to the lack of awareness of the food and ways to prevent malnutrition,” said Dr. RP Bichha, Director, Nepal Family Health Division.

Conclusion:
We hope that Nepal’s Health Sector is able to tackle this scenario with help from nutritionists, scientists and parents of these children.

September 3, 2018 |

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