Today is World Health Day. It is a good time to reflect on the health of our people. And to remind ourselves that we still need to wage a war against malnutrition. So I’m reproducing what we discussed last November on this serious problem:
Six weeks ago, the Annual Health Bulletin announced that 37% of our children are stunting, that 4.6% of them are wasting, and that 11.1% are underweight.
This week, we learnt that the Right to Food Assessment Study concluded that 26.6% of our households are undernourished. That would also roughly mean that about a quarter of our population is undernourished. The study, it seems, was conducted sometime last year by FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture.
And recently, the Basic Health Worker in Chali has reported that “the number of malnourished children under the age of five in Chali geog under Mongar has almost doubled in just one year.”
We now know, from independent sources, that our people are undernourished. And that our children are stunting, wasting and underweight. So what are we doing about it? Not much. In fact, we seem to be doing nothing to specifically address this crisis.
What should we do? “Wage a WAR AGAINST MALNUTRITION,” cries Zekom. This is what Zekom implores:
Reducing poverty, especially rural poverty, is an obvious answer.
But, children cannot wait for Drukyul to get richer. Our nation’s future is being made NOW.
Wage a WAR AGAINST MALNUTRITION. Take the nourishing food to where the children and infants are — in schools and beyond schools — targeting the nutrition and trace elements missing in their diet.
Make sure to measure outcomes, in physical growth rates of beneficiary children, very frequently. You’ll be amazed how fast it works, if it’s done right. There’s nothing better than rapid positive results to fuel the FIRE in change agents’ belly, and inspire others to join hands.
Countries such as UK, Germany and Japan benefited from such programmes after the World War II. Concentrated orange juice and cod liver oil were delivered to every household with children under certain age in UK. Milk and various sources of vitamins were delivered to every infant and school lunches in Japan. Who financed these? USA. It was the top priority in their postwar reconstruction assistance efforts.
Recruit UNiCEF, UN World Food Programme, and other UN agencies as partners, and tap their global know-how on how to do it and do it right.
Where there is a will, there is a way.