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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Malnutrition stunts growth of children: Unicef

Update : 10 Nov 2013, 08:12 AM

Bangladesh is the one of the countries hit hardest by malnutrition, leaving the majority of children with stunted growth, confirmed Md Mohsin Ali, a nutrition specialist with Unicef.

He said: “Undernutrition is a major problem in kids from both poor and wealthy families. Around 25% of kids from wealthy families and 50% of children from poor families suffer from this.”

The observations were made at a knowledge-sharing workshop, titled Connecting Media with Child Nutrition and IYCF, held at the capital’s Ruposi Bangla hotel yesterday.

The programme was organised by the Management and Resources Development Initiative (MRDI) in partnership with Alive & Thrive and fhi360.

Dr Kaosar Afsana, director of health at the nutrition and population programme at Brac, said: “In Bangladesh, around 2.3million children remain underdeveloped due to malnutrition.

“Complementary feeding alongside breastfeeding after the first six months of a child’s birth is very important for reducing the stunting rates,” she said.

Dr SM Mustafizur Rahman, director general of health services at the ministry of health and family welfare, said: “Food security does not ensure the nutrition security of a child as we have a bad habit of eating junk food.”

Maternal nutrition is also important for ensuring the good nutrition status of an infant as well as safeguarding women’s health, he said.

Speakers said, although the media is an effective communication tool to reach policymakers, there is a lack of coverage on child nutrition in the media. People do not have any access to information on Infant and Young Children Feeding (IYCF), and child nutrition so a huge number of people do not understand the issue, they said.

Belal Uddin, technical specialist (advocacy) at Alive and Thrive, said: “IYCF has been a major contributing sector in the country to increase children’s nutrition.

“It means to empower mothers to initiate breastfeeding within an hour of birth, breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and continue breastfeeding for two years or more, together with nutritionally adequate, safe, age-appropriate, responsive complementary feeding starting at six months.”

He said: “IYCF is not a priority issue in the newsrooms across the country.It is only covered when an event related to the issue takes place. The media should come forward and put an emphasis on the issue to create a better impact on the society.”

Meanwhile, Farid Hossain, former bureau chief of Associated Press in Bangladesh, said: “A major portion of the media lacks the courage to break the conventional methods of news treatment and give nutrition related news maximum coverage.”

Back in 2010, MRDI started training programmes with 25 journalists to provide them with tips and tools to develop in-depth reports on IYCF, child nutrition and encourage broader media coverage on the issue.

Later, these journalists were invited to participate in a three-month fellowship programme, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Among others, Moniruzzaman Uzzal, special correspondent at the Dhaka Tribune, Hasibur Rahman, executive director of MRDI, Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul, editor-in-chief and CEO of Boishaki TV, Andy Rigsby of GMMB, spoke at the programme. 

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