Fifty three percent of children in Somalia have the risk of malnutrition (UN). With the increasing drought and violence rate, thousands of Somalis have fled in search for work in countries that border Somalia. The information assembled for this project includes behavioral, environmental dynamics of Malnutrition in children, and an explicit point of convergence of the general history of nutritional diseases in the country suffered by children. A large proportion of malnutrition
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mortality is contributed by infections that are largely preventable cause. A large scale of these deaths happen at home and because the child is given no medical attention. There are majority of alternatives and programs that can be implemented in order to help reduce and solve the problem of malnutrition, this policy brief has therefore provided some recommendations to address to this growing health issue.
As of 2009 (2005 statistics), the World Bank has estimated that, the population of Somali children under 5 ranged from 1637 – 17000. Among that population 42% of children under 5 suffered firm shunting (WHO) while 36 % of the total population of children suffered from underweight (NCHS/WHO) accompanied by severe malnutrition.
Recurring famines has been of a huge problem in the horn of Africa, particularly Somalia. Although famines do not necessarily result from lack of food production alone, it could be triggered by natural disasters that manifests in drought of crops but the major factor that is responsible behind recurring famines is due to a Nation’s economic collapse and the loss of authority of the government on the the mass of population.
Somalia Severe crisis in food availability increased the mortality rate of different age groups but, children were mostly affected by it. Many people either leave to another town in search for work or leave the country altogether in search for a better quality of life. Somalia has suffered from consecutive droughts years that has caused a loss of livestock, population displacement and malnutrition – being the major issue leaving 10 million people at risk for starvation.
Children, particularly those who ranged less than 5 years of age usually have a higher death rate in such conditions. Based on data from ——- , the search for malnutrition in chidren of Somalia, reported that approximately 53% of the total child population age ranged 5 years and below were malnutrition prevalent, while 180 per 1000 children lives under the age of 5 resulted in death, triggering an increase in child mortality rates. Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia experiences constant wars, poverty and diseases. Children who live admits this war crisis have no option but to depend on elders for basic necessities for survival. In Somalia children experience difficulties like, poverty, violence which is caused by civil unrest contribute less or no nutritional facilities to children. Children have no choice but to do menial jobs only as a source for survival. (Jamal Osmaan). According to the Food Analysis Unit for Somalia (FAO/FSAU), “more than 600,000 people, out of which 43% of children”, in Shabelle and Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, are in a keen need for “humatirarian emergency”, due to the high inflation of starvation rates.
Infectious diseases like diarrhea, pneumonia, kwashiorkor, edema and marusmus are the most acquired diseases that are manifested as a result of malnutrition in Somalia. Insufficient amont of nutritients like, proteint, iodine, calcium along with several other causes play a part in such occurrences of infections which result in mortality. In addition, malnutrition also causes an “increased case-fatality ratio (CFR) in the most common childhood communicable diseases (i.e., measles, diarrheal disease, malaria, and acute respiratory infections (ARIs).” Even when the coutry is not at a risk of drought or famines, majority of the age groups that still at are mortality risk comprise of young children. Environmental factors that encourage malnutrition rates can be because of; growth in population, overcrowding, people living in unsanitary conditions, forced migration and last but not the least, dependency on the government to provide nutritional campaignes for both mothers and children affected with severe malnutrition.
Somalia does not have the railway transportation facilities although buses and trucks are made available in certain regions, the roads are seriously deteriorated enough to help patients in need for medical attention. Even if families decide to take these children to hospitals, transportation, funds and the bad image of public health establishments delay the underprivileged child from obtaining the care they need. With reference to this specific population, the UNICEF and the WHO implemented three nutritional statuses that determine quantitative analysis of children suffering from malnutrition:
Weight for age: measures both acute and chronic malnutrition.
Height for age: measure the height of the child with respect to age. This method determines the characteristics of a child who is severely shunted. “Stunting is a reflection of chronic malnutrition” which occurs if a child “does not receive adequate nutrition over a long period” and is exposed to recurring chronic illnesses.
Based on, Somalia MICS 2006 Report, 53% of Somali children under the age of 5 are Malnutrition prevalent and 36% of the total child population are moderately underweight(Appendix.1). In addition, “thirty eight percent of children are stunted or too short for their age and 11 percent are wasted or too thin for their height.” With regard to these data, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the World Fit for Children (WFFC) have set goals “to reduce infant and child mortality” caused as a result of malnutrition. Children’s nutritional status is the key determinant for a child’s overall health. If a child receives a “good supply of food” and “not exposed to repeated illnesses” and are well taken care of – they satisfy the term of nourishment.
“Poor food security is a basic cause of malnutrition,” that causes major compulsion to adequate household food security and also feeding practice. At this time, in addition to poor food security,there was an increase in child and mother health deterioration. This proves that “emergency consideration should given to health issues” that are formed as a result of food crisis.
Community based tactics are being evaluated to provide precautionary and aid services through national as well as international organizations like UNICEF, the World Health Organization, United Nations and World Fit for Children (WFFC). To broaden this flourishing program to a bigger population, UNICEF admits the “worsening drought conditions, soaring food prices and mass displacement of people” have formulated programs by supplying supplementary feeding for “44,000 children under five years of age across the Mogadishu-Afgoye province in Central and Southern Somalia.” UNICEF with partnership with National Somali NGO Jumdo Peace and development has aimed to reach out and help 90% of the total malnutrited children. ()
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There is an ongoing requirement for progress and support of basic diagnostic methods, in addition to the progress of fact-based healing guidelines, to permit minimally qualified health care workers to effectively and efficiently take care of children inflected with diseases that arise as a result of malnutrition. There is an utmost necessity to investigate the health system challenges and limitations for implementation of national awareness programs, examination of antibiotic treatment to specific illnesses like pneumonia that is associated with child malnutrition.
Poverty is usually considered to be the main causes of malnutrition. The quality of life initiatives should be taken into consideration and any laws developed on women should not reduce time for the care of children. Other drawback that influence the growth rate of malnutrition in parts of Somalia are :
Vaccination coverage provided by the government doesn’t satisfy the demand of the children in need.
Long distances have to be covered to reach medical facilities and children are not able to to make it through the long journey to receive medical attention.
Hygiene and sanitation conditions are poor and clean water is rarely available.
Malnourished chidren already prone to be being susceptible to secondary illnesse, factors like exposure to poor hygienic conditions and most women are being uneducated and illiterate limits their knowledge to good caring practices and prevention of diseases.
Since, “child and maternal morbidity were important determinants of malnutrition in Somalia,” the population that are inflicted with high rates of child mortality should receive access to health services, particularly maternal and child health, immunizations to emerging diseases and availability of Vitamin A supplements. Diseases like Edema, Kwashiorkor and Marasmus are often linked as a result of child malnutrition. Hence in order to achieve an improved statistical number of mortality rate in children it is necessary to take proper initiatives to improve dietary diversity. This could be encouraged by lowering the cost of food supply and provided informal education to improve knowledge in nutrition and health. The subject on nutrition should involve “breast feeding information, how to prepare weaning foods and increase diversity using local foods.”
Simple instructions like teaching mothers to be involved in the treatment and recovery of their children, feeding assistance based on calorie consumption, helps prevent the downfall of children population. Another significant aspect in decreasing malnutrition mortality is by providing sufficient nutrients which supplies children with adequate antibodies and the sustenance to fight infectious diseases. “Infants and children who are well nourished get sick less and for short period of time, love longer and work more years than adults who are not well nourished”(Skolnik, 2008) This helps make contribution to the nations economy.
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