Malnutrition a serious health crisis in DarchulaAs many as 537 children in the district aged between 6 months and five years were found suffering from malnutrition in the last fiscal year 2021-22.
Malnutrition in children is a serious health crisis in Darchula, a hill district of Sudurpaschim Province.
As many as 537 children between 6 months and five years were found suffering from malnutrition in the district, according to the District Health Office in Darchula. Among them, 168 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition.
The District Health Office in the last fiscal year 2021-2022 launched a programme to find out the state of malnutrition in the district. Health workers reached all 61 wards of the nine local units and conducted health check-ups of the children below five years of age.
“More than 500 out of 5,205 children who underwent health checkup in the district were found suffering from malnutrition. Among them, 168 suffered from severe malnutrition,” said Birendra Prasad Bhatta, immunisation supervisor at the District Health Office.
He said there were 35 severely malnourished children each in Shailyashikhar Municipality, Lekam Rural Municipality and Naugadh Rural Municipality of Darchula. Similarly, 20 children with severe malnutrition were found in Byas Rural Municipality, 15 in Marma Rural Municipality, 10 in Malikarjun Rural Municipality and four in Duhu Rural Municipality.
According to the District Health Office, there are a total of 13,048 children between six months and five years in Darchula.
Health workers say food insecurity and a lack of awareness among guardians regarding nourishing food needed for a child’s growth are the leading causes of malnutrition in children. Darchula is often hit by food insecurity as the food grown by local farmers hardly lasts for six months.
“A lack of awareness regarding nutritious food for children, teenage pregnancies and shortage of nourishing food are the main causes behind the high rate of malnutrition in the district,” said Bhatta.
The District Health Office provided fortified food to all 537 children suffering from malnutrition for three months. According to Khagendra Karki, information officer at the health office, 417 malnourished children were treated while others are still suffering from the ailment.
“Four children with severe malnutrition were found suffering from other diseases as well. They were admitted to a hospital for treatment,” said Karki. According to him, the District Health Office has launched several programmes through each local unit to eradicate malnutrition.
The Nepal Demographic Health Survey-2016 shows that 36 percent of children under five years of age suffer from chronic malnutrition (stunting or low height for weight). The government aims to reduce the stunting rate from the existing 36 percent to 24 percent by 2025, and to 14 percent by 2030, in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.Malnutrition is a serious health crisis in Sudurpaschim Province. The Multiple Indicator Survey-2019 showed that the prevalence of wasting among children in the province stood at 14.1 percent.