Effects of malnutrition on children less than five years in Somalia

Malnutrition Essays

The World health organization defines malnutrition as “the cellular imbalance between supply of nutrients and energy and the body’s demand for them to ensure growth, maintenance, and specific functions.” Women and children less than five years are the most adversely affected groups, malnutrition is globally the most important risk factor for illness and death, contributing to more than half of deaths in children worldwide; child malnutrition was associated with 54% of deaths in children in developing countries.

Malnutrition causes about a number 5.6 million of 10 million child deaths per year, with severe Malnutrition contributing to about 1.5 million of these deaths. The nutritional status of children is the best indicator of the well being of children. Issues that cause a decline in the nutritional status of children are multidimensional and difficult to understand.

In Somalia, as in many other developing countries, under-nutrition is one of the leading causes of childhood morbidity and mortality. Childhood under-nutrition effects physical and cognitive growth, impairs the immune system, and increases the risk of morbidity and mortality.

Globally, the prevalence of malnutrition is highest in African countries. Both underweight and stunting are threatening the health of children younger than five years old. Somalia is one of the highest percentages of under nutrition children in Africa. Malnutrition is still the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in children younger than five years old. Effects of malnutrition children less than five years in Somalia is increasing, particularly those in South and central of Somalia-Beledwein- is one of increasing effects of malnutrition and can be divided in short effect and long effect, short effects include related malnutrition diseases such as diarrhea, respiratory and Malaria, and long effects include physical and mental growth. and also Malnutrition effects all levels of development; physically, mentally, socially, psychologically, and physiologically. It thus multiplies the effect of prevailing disease or mortality in children under 5 years old.

Historical background

Children less than five years worldwide are known to be vulnerable and susceptible in many respects, especially on matters on health. Nutritional deficiencies and malnutrition generally affect children more than any other group. Malnutrition occurs in developing countries, as well as in more prosperous areas of the world. WHO Progress Report (2002) indicates that hunger and malnutrition remain the most devastating problems to the world’s poor and needy. Malnutrition has been existing for thousands of years over the worldwide, and it has been recognized that breast milk and complimentary foods in early months of the child strengthens the immunity of body.

Thus with increased global change of environment, population and political instability and armed conflicts lead the world children to live on malnutrition ever before. Malnutrition (suboptimal nutrition or micronutrient deficiencies) and childhood morbidity are issues of great public health importance throughout developing countries due to their contribution to child mortality and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).

In order to ensure that all Somalis and their children can achieve optimal nutrition and to lower the incidence of infectious disease and malnutrition related deaths in infants and children, it is necessary to understand the factors effecting to malnutrition. Malnutrition include under nutrition, specific nutrient deficiencies, and over nutrition; and it kills, maims, retards, cripples, blinds, and impairs human development on a truly massive scale worldwide.

The results from 53 developing countries with nationally representative data on child weight- for-age indicate that 56% of child deaths were attributable to malnutrition’s potentiating effects, and 83% of these were attributable to mild-to-moderate as opposed to severe malnutrition. For individual countries, malnutrition’s total potentiating effects on mortality ranged from 13% to 66%, with at least three-quarters of this arising from mild-to-moderate malnutrition in each case. These results show that malnutrition has a far more powerful impact on child mortality than is generally appreciated, and suggest that strategies involving only the screening and treatment of the severely malnourished will do little to address this impact.

UNICEF (2004) classifies the immediate causes of childhood malnutrition as insufficient Diet as well as stress, trauma, disease (severe or frequent infections) and poor psychosocial care. Insufficient dietary intake may refer to poor breastfeeding practices, early weaning, delayed introduction of complementary foods and insufficient protein in the diet. Malnutrition can also develop due to neglect, abnormal mealtimes with a career or parent or insufficient quantities of food (because of insufficient parental knowledge, poor appetite in the child or neglect, physical or emotional abuse). The mother-baby-bond should be in place early in life for better cognitive, emotional and social development later in life (Play Therapy Africa, 2009).

Evidence shows that quality of care is linked to infant nutritional status. The quality of psychosocial care is often determined by the interaction between mother and child. A protective effect on nutritional status is seen by talking to the child, storytelling, hugging the child, having a safe and attractive environment and encouraging independence. Independence gives the child ability to obtain food and health care later in life.

It is important for parents to strengthen their psychosocial care and support skills as part of the intervention programme for malnourished children as the effects of hunger and food insecurity are closely linked to psychosocial stress. Emotional stimulation of the child is vital for preventing severe malnutrition. Children will not improve with only food, but also need attention. The combination of food and emotional support can have a positive effect on physical, mental and emotional outcomes during times of food crisis and can increase survival rates. Children that are not stimulated can have reduced psychomotor activity such as not crawling or playing. The moment children become less active and demanding, parents tend to provide less stimulation.

Statement problem (justification of study)

The effects of malnutrition on children less than five years of the people live in Beledwein district is a medical disaster that exists in Hiiraan Somali especially in Beledwein district. After I have seen increasing effects of malnutrition on children less than five years, I prepared myself to base my research topic on effects of malnutrition on children less than five years and I hope that will be helpful interim of creating good environment that will promote awareness towards effects of study on malnutrition on children less than five years.

Justification of research

After having seen increasing effects of malnutrition on our community particularly growth effects and social effects of malnutrition on children less than five years, I decided to discover the problems facing malnutrition children in the society, since the effects of malnutrition in children is an uncountable. This research will be useful for health care professionals such as doctors, nurses, researchers, families, and everyone who is care giver of children.

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