The lack of healthcare during pregnancy and child care skills among mothers in rural areas is to blame for the high child malnutrition rate, an official said.
Many rural mothers lack child care skills
Hoang The Noi, Director of Reproductive Healthcare Centre of Hung Yen Province commented at a forum on August 24 that many mothers still rely on traditional methods when rearing children.
The forum is part of a series of activities to respond to the global initiative Child Health Campaign launched by World Vision International.
High malnutrition rate
According to Noi, despite local authorities promoting prenatal and child healthcare to local residents, Hung Yen’s child malnutrition rate remained at 16.8% in 2010. Stunted growth rates were estimated at 28.9% in 2010.
“The situation is attributed to poor prenatal health and healthcare during the first five years of a child’s life,” Noi emphasised.
Many mothers locally complained about the stunted growth and light weight of their children. In addition, a majority of these children suffer from anorexia. Many of them refuse to drink milk after their weaning.
“We have equipped local mothers with practical child care skills, including how to prepare a balanced and hygienic meal for their child. However, many families in rural areas can’t provide their children with proper care. Those who have better conditions complained that they are too busy and do not have enough time to prepare snacks for their children,” he shared.
Although many children in rural areas are provided with three meals a day, their food lacks sufficient nutrition.
Children below two who live with their grandparents while their parents work away from home are often on the verge of facing malnutrition, he added.
Importance of nutrition
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one of the major reasons for child malnutrition is the improper prenatal care. It has been proven that children born weighing less than 2.5 kilos often undergo slower development.
During the first two years of a child’s life, they should be provided with a full nutrition in order to set a good foundation for their future development.
Children should be entirely breastfed for first six months. However, only 16% of children in Hung Yen receive breast milk during the first six months following birth. National figures are equally bad, with only 19-20% of babies regularly being breastfed in 2010.
Medical officials in Hung Yen are concerned about how difficult it is for mothers to continue with breast-feeding for the entire six-month term due to mothers having to return to work after their four-month maternity leave.
Breastfeed is even more difficult for rural mothers as they often return to work in the fields when their child is just two months old.
In order to help improve the situation, World Vision International in Vietnam implemented a study in the province’s Tien Lu District since 2009. The programme will be implemented beginning from the fiscal year 2011 and will last for at least 10 years. It is designed to ensure social security for children, families and the communities in targeted communes as well as reduce the rate of child malnutrition and infectious diseases for children aged under five in the district.
World Vision will pump some USD230,000 into the programme during the 2011 fiscal year, and around USD350,000 for 2012.
Microfinance worth USD125,000 will be provided for nutritional campaigns in these localities for three years beginning from 2011.
In the meantime, medical workers in Cuong Chinh Commune called for early and special nutrition intervention methods from the prenatal period through the first two-years of a child’s life.
More efforts should be made to help parents switch from traditional child care to modern care methods. Information should be focused at women, particularly pregnant women in order to foster a profound change in their awareness about the importance of early child care.