An adequate well-balanced diet is the bedrock of child survival, health and development. Well-nourished children are more likely to be healthy, productive, and ready to learn. Undernutrition, by the same logic, is devastating. It blunts the intellect, saps productivity, and perpetuates poverty.
A country’s development needs brainpower & children need nourishment to feed the future.
Afghanistan has one of the world’s highest rates of stunting in children under the age of five: 41 per cent. Stunting is a sign of chronic undernutrition during the most critical periods of growth. It prevents children from reaching their potential. Stunted children are more likely to contract diseases, less likely to get basic health care, and do not perform well in school.
The rate of wasting in Afghanistan is also extremely high. Wasting, as its name suggests, is literally wasting away to skin and bones. The crushing result of acute malnutrition, it poses an immediate threat to a child’s survival.
Chronic nutritional deficiency in Afghanistan is largely the result of poor feeding. For example, only half of Afghan babies are exclusively breastfed in their first six months, and their exposure to contaminated liquids or foods places them at a greater risk of life-threatening illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Inadequate dietary diversity and insufficient amounts of food, coupled with poor hygiene, also contribute to health risks and deaths of older children. When mothers have inadequate diets, a harmful cycle is created – malnourished infants grow up to become stunted mothers, generation after generation.
Despite impressive improvements in the past decade, Afghanistan’s health system still faces a number of challenges. Nutrition services remain limited and healthcare providers lack training to assess and offer counselling and treatment. When nutritional issues go undetected, rates of stunting, wasting, severe acute malnutrition, and micronutrient deficiencies appear lower in statistics and receive much less focus than they should.