Will Cambodia’s hunger and child mortality be solved?

Albeiro Rodas

Trying to reduce Cambodian’s problems of malnutrition among children aged six to 24, the Cambodian Government, with UNICEFUSAID-Cambodia and the World Health Organization (WHO-Cambodia), among others institutions, launched a national campaign to ensure an adequate complementary food and breast milk. “By seeking to improve complementary feeding for children 6 to 24 months we are addressing one of the major barriers to Cambodia reaching its full potential in the future: the healthy development of its children.” said UNICEF Deputy Representative Sunah Kim.

According to reports, malnutrition still affecting in Cambodia children under the age of five and it is due to the lack of nutritious food and inappropriate feeding practices. Malnutrition makes children vulnerable to mortal diseases as well and it is at the top of the main child mortality reasons, especially in the most impoverished regions, usually rural areas. A lack of an appropriate nutrition, leads also to further repercussions like a limited both mental and physical development and, in consequence, problems of learning and less opportunities of work. This is also a reason of dropout in schools.

UNESCO established that 40 per cent of children age five and under are too small for their age and another 28 per cent are underweight. At the same time, Cambodian women are equally susceptible to malnutrition with 19 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 considered too thin, with increases risk for complications during birth and leads to low birth weight for their babies, concluded the report. “Mothers and caregivers have an important role to ensure children receive appropriate and quality complementary food.” said Prof. Eng Huot, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Health. He noted that although promoting breastfeeding was successful, a shortage of appropriate complementary feeding was still the main factor contributing to high malnutrition rates in the country.

The Kingdom of Spain, through the UN and USAID, is the main financial supporter of the program that will try to reach mothers and caregivers in order to improve the complementary feeding of children. The Cambodian media is also included in the campaign in the aim to change nutrition practice in the country. The program is also inside the purpose to eradicate extreme poverty, hunger and child mortality of the Millennium Development Goals 1 and 4: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and reduce child mortality (see the Cambodian project CMDG Report 2010). Hopefully this will lead to brighter future for all Cambodians.

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