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Health News, November 11, 2009

UNICEF: More than half of Afghan children suffer from malnutrition

The report shows that 59 per cent of Afghanistan's children under the age of five do not get enough to eat, leading to developmental problems

Eight years after the start of the international campaign to end Taliban rule in Afghanistan, more than half of all children under age five suffer from malnutrition, a UNICEF official told the German Press Agency dpa Wednesday.

Half children suffer from malnutrition
Afghanistan has the highest percentage rate of malnourished children, though India has more in absolute numbers: 61 million.

'Nutrition is somewhat better (now), but not much,' said Daniel Toole, UNICEF's South Asia director, as the UN agency for children released a report tracking global progress in maternal and child nutrition.

The report shows that 59 per cent of Afghanistan's children under the age of five do not get enough to eat, leading to developmental problems.

Toole said one of the main problems faced by UNICEF is getting information to mothers in the traditionally oriented country.

'Afghan women have less contact with health workers,' Toole said. 'Many health workers are men and, traditionally, women are not allowed to have contact with men who are not family.'

That's why it's important to train more women in the health care field, he said.

Another problem is the low level of development in the country, combined with a widespread lack of education after three decades of armed conflict. Health care is often inadequate.

The UNICEF report shows that most malnourished children are in South Asia, 83 million of a worldwide 200 million. Afghanistan has the highest percentage rate of malnourished children, though India has more in absolute numbers: 61 million.

Social and hygenic problems are two major issues facing Afghanistan. Many women marry young and bear children early in life. Many of those are born underweight.

Additionally, many mothers opt not to nurse, preferring water to breast milk. That becomes a problem when the water is dirty. More than 600 million of India's population of 1.1 billion have no access to sanitary facilities.

Category: Children, Healthcare/Environment - Views: 18303