ISLAMABAD: Health experts on Monday called for starting an advocacy drive to address the issue of children stunting for having improved child health and nutrition. According to them, stunting is impaired growth and development caused by poor nutrition, repeated infections and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.
They said over 44 per cent children under the age of five years were stunted in Pakistan due to chronic malnutrition.
They said stunted children suffer delayed growth and their brains do not develop as they should and asked the authorities concerned to start an awareness drive for improving maternal and child health.
They said stunted children have a seven-month delay in starting school while they have low intelligence quotient and are more likely to repeat a grade of school. Stunted children complete one year less of schooling and are less likely to graduate high school, they added.
Dr Wasim Khawaja from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) said stunting is a result of chronic malnutrition which is defined by the World Health Organisation as excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy or nutrients. He said stunting is the result of continued low intake of energy and essential nutrients.
When children’s usual intake is below their required level it results in impaired growth and hence short stature for their age, he added. He said there were multiple reasons for a child to get in the under-nutrition trap, and diarrhea is one of the major causes. Diarrhea leads to excessive loss of nutrients from the body even though a child may have consumed a sufficient amount of calories or nutrients.
Health expert Dr Sharif Astori said when a child gets intestinal infection due to bacteria or other micro-organism, he or she develops diarrhea. These bugs attach themselves to the lining of the intestine, and interfere with the absorption of water and other essential nutrients.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2019.