Over 40pc children suffer from malnutrition
Most of the world's chronically undernourished under-fives -- 8.3 crore children -- are in South Asia, according to a Unicef report titled 'Improving Child and Maternal Nutrition', released yesterday.
More than 40 percent of young children are undernourished in Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the five countries hit hardest by the problem, it said.
The report presents recent survey-based data on global prevalence of under-nutrition (stunting, wasting, underweight) but highlights stunting in particular as it is closely linked to child mortality, chronic disease in adult life and a predictor of a child's brain development.
Some 43 percent of the under fives in Bangladesh are moderately or severely stunted, 49 percent in Nepal, 48 percent in India, 42 percent in Pakistan and 59 percent in Afghanistan.
South Asia makes up nearly 8.3 crore undernourished children in total and rest of the world 7.2 crore.
The report also said breastfeeding within one hour of birth and exclusively for at least six months, is the single intervention with the largest impact on child survival, potentially reducing under-five child mortality by 12-15 percent in developing countries.
Across South Asia, harmful cultural and traditional practices such as child marriage lead to many women giving birth young. They are told to eat less during pregnancy -- for easier delivery -- they're anemic and undernourished, and as a result have low birthweight babies who may survive but not thrive, the report said.
It called for equal attention to proper care and feeding of children between six months and two years. This is not just about food. It is about giving the right kinds of food and care at the right age -- promoting immediate and exclusive breastfeeding, the report added.