Monday, December 23, 2013

Looking beyond food for causes of Cameroon’s malnutrition

IRIN: ...Many Cameroonians know little about malnutrition, and the condition is not properly addressed as a public health problem, health experts say. Many see malnutrition only as a problem of insufficient food, and are perplexed that the ailment abounds in a country with strong agricultural production - a view that overlooks unequal food distribution and access in the country as well as other factors that contribute to the illness.

Severe acute malnutrition is highest in the arid Far North and North regions, but it is also high in Adamaoua and the East regions. And chronic malnutrition afflicts children in seven of Cameroon’s 10 regions. “This is the hidden face of Cameroon,” said Ines Lezama, a nutrition specialist with UNICEF, referring to chronic malnutrition, which has affected 1.4 million Cameroonian children in 2013.

...“It is a problem of education, culture. It’s like an insult when you tell somebody that their child is malnourished. Yet this is a health problem like any other,” said Georges Okala, a nutrition specialist with Cameroon’s Ministry of Health. “It is important that parents understand that when their child is underweight and not growing normally, there is a problem, and they should know what is causing that problem.”

Malnutrition is responsible for 38 percent of deaths among children under age five in Cameroon, and one out of three children is stunted. Forty-four percent of chronically malnourished children in the 11-member Economic Community of Central Africa States (ECCAS) are in Cameroon, according to UNICEF....

Market in Abong-Mbang, East Province, Cameroon. Shot by Amcaja, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license 

No comments: