Kids bear the brunt

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Monday, July 28, 2014


MALNUTRITION is defined as the deficiency in nutrient intake caused by not having enough to eat or not eating the right things resulting to negative effects on the individual's body.

Dr. Celna Mae Tejare, head program for nutrition for Davao operations of Action Contre la Faim (ACF) International, said one of the causes of malnutrition is the Cycle of Poverty.

The cycle shows that since the child is malnourished he or she gets sick easily which in turn causes regular trips to the hospital causing the child to be absent in classes thus not being able to graduate. Since the child was not able to graduate, he or she will find it difficult to look for a proper job or settling for a low paying occupation which results to poor living conditions and the inability to provide the basic needs of his or her family. Since they are poor, they will not be able to properly provide the nutrition their child needs then the cycle begins again.

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"Malnutrition affects the child mentally, physically, and their future," Tejare said.

Individuals with malnutrition experiences a decrease in muscle function, cardio-respiratory function, gastrointestinal function, and immune function. It also has negative impacts to the individual's psychosocial aspect.

Tejare said the causes of malnutrition can be surmised through the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) conceptual framework on the causes of malnutrition wherein it categorizes the causes into three: basic, underlying, and immediate causes.

Basic causes are those around the structure and processes of societies be it in a social, economic, or political context like the lack of capital in the financial, human, physical, and social aspects. The underlying causes are the result of the basic causes and are the ones influencing households and communities like household food insecurity, inadequate care, and unhealthy household environment and lack of health services. Finally the immediate causes are the ones that are directly affecting the child like inadequate dietary intake and disease which results to shild malnutrition.

Tejare said based on their observation here in Davao City, malnutrition is usually caused by poverty, improper care practices, unemployment, wrong feeding habits of the child, and lack of accessibility.

Tejare said in order to prevent malnutrition it is important that there is a multi-sectoral approach on this.

As the popular belief goes prevention always starts at home. Tejare said it is important for the parents to take care and nourish their child during in his or her first 1,000 days or from the start of the pregnancy to the child's 2nd birthday since this is during the time when the child is developing. She said this will help prevent the child from becoming malnourished.

"If you correct malnutrition in the first 1,000 days of the child, he or she will have a better future," Tejare said.

It is also important for parents to inquire in health centers or to the midwife about programs or ways that can help prevent the child from becoming malnourished.

Tejare said one of the first interventions in preventing malnutrition is through breast feeding since the mother's milk has enough nutrients to sustain the baby. If the child is now able to eat food, the parents should begin the complimentary feeding.

"They should not only feed the child with plain lugaw but they could mix healthy ingredients in it like vegetables or fruits," she said.

Tejare said parents can ask guidance from barangay nutrition scholars on how to provide the right nutrition to their children.

Tejare also urged mothers to attend free seminars and lectures pertaining to taking care of children or parenting.

She said it is important for parents to educate themselves on what kind of services they can avail to help their child.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 29, 2014.

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