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Yemeni children malnourished

12th December 2007

Almost a third of children in Yemen aged between two and five years are severely stunted through malnutrition, according to a new report.

yemen

The report, Yemen Poverty Assessment, said poverty was associated with the prevalence of severe stunting and underweight among Yemeni children.

Officials say 53.1% of children in that age group show signs of stunting, while 12.5% show signs of wasting.

And 45.6% of that age group is underweight, according to Ali al-Mudhwahi, director of the family health department at the Ministry of Health.

There are 4.1 million children under five in Yemen.

Child malnutrition rates in Yemen are amongst the highest in the world, with infant and under-five mortality rates estimated at 76 and 102 per 1,000 live births, respectively, according to data from the World Food Programme (WFP).

Some of the problem stems from the widespread social use of qat, a mild narcotic chewed in leaf form.

Qat interferes with the body's ability to absorb nutrients, and many families will buy it before they buy food.

Volunteers have been drafted into some local communities to assess the nutrition status of families in rural areas, by simple measures such as weight and growth rate.

Those believed to be malnourished can then be referred to health professionals for treatment.

The programme is to be expanded into other regions of the country, officials say.

Another initiative - the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) - employs an integrated approach to child health that focuses on the holistic well-being of the child.

It largely targets healthcare workers, and is deployed in 105 districts, in an attempt to improve health workers' skills in dealing with children.

Yemen’s Ministry of Health will get WFP support for malnourished women and children from 2007 to 2011, with food aid to be distributed through health centres in rural areas to 24,130 beneficiaries annually.

A small proportion of the food aid will also go to tuberculosis and leprosy patients.

 

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