Early childhood is the most rapid period of development in a human life. In DPR Korea, malnutrition has eroded the survival, growth and development of children. In 2012, improvements in childhood nutrition were revealed by data from a new comprehensive national nutrition survey released by the Government.
The data was published in a preliminary report on results from a major national nutrition survey conducted in September and October 2012. It shows that stunting has decreased from 32.3 per cent to 27.9 per cent since 2009, while acute malnutrition is down from 5.2 per cent to 4 per cent and the incidence of underweight children is down from 18.8 per cent to 15.5 per cent.Stunting, or chronic malnutrition, has an irreversible impact on children’s physical and intellectual development if it is not treated in the first two years of life. To prevent stunting and anaemia in mothers and their children, food and nutrition security, water, hygiene and sanitation, and other endemic social and health-related problems need to be addressed together, not separately.
The 2012 survey looked at the prevalence of acute and chronic malnutrition and anaemia among children less than five years old, documented nutrition-related diseases in these children and provided data on vitamin A supplementation coverage, on breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices. The survey also assessed acute malnutrition, anaemia, micronutrient supplementation coverage, and food diversity in all the mothers of the children surveyed.
The survey found wide variations in stunting between provinces, with approximately 20 per cent of children in Pyongyang being stunted, versus more than 30 per cent of children in the north-eastern provinces.