According to World Bank, over 1/3rd of child mortality in Nepal is due to malnutrition and reasons associated with it. Despite of several efforts to reduce malnutrition in Nepal, the findings of recent NDHS 2016 report reveals, 36% of children in Nepal are stunted, 10% are wasted and 27% are underweight. It is a proven fact that children who are undernourished during the golden 1000 days are at risk for impaired cognitive development as 90% of brain development occurs in the first 2 years of child. Undernourished children have high chances of falling sick with increased threat to life in the children of the respective age group.
Acknowledging the fact that most of the irreversible damage due to malnutrition takes place during gestation and in the 24 months of life, proper breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices are greatly promoted by the government/ non-government sector to combat malnutrition among children in Nepal. However, if we look at the findings of NDHS 2016, only 55% of newborn were breastfed within an hour and just 66% of under 6 months children were exclusively breastfed.
Adequate breastfeeding, complementary feeding and proper nutrition are the right of every child and children’s health and wellbeing is dependent on parent’s commitment. The food which the mother eats today will make a difference for long term health status of the child. Hence, every mother must internalize if she is eating right, if she is feeding her child properly. If not, then she should be implementing appropriate maternal and child feeding practices through support from her husband, family with regular assistance of health workers in the community. This will not only aid in the mothers health but also enhance the health of the baby and thus foster positive family environment.
With the motto to reach the mother and children and create a youthful spark to ignite the fight against malnutrition, a team of youth called ‘SOCHAI – Youth For Nutrition’ has embarked upon a journey at Lubhu, Lalitpur. We realize that the small steps from combined effort from young people can actually make a big difference. So, the SOCHAI – YFN team is targeting the “golden 1000 days mothers” at Lubhu to help them learn, internalize and implement proper nutritional practices. The Poshan mala and Nutri card is the educational tool through which the mother are being educated and supported to practice optimal breastfeeding and ensure timely and adequately complementary feeding including all food groups in 1000 golden days to ensure the health of the mother and children.
The response YFN team have been getting through mothers are phenomenal as the mothers share how their knowledge has improved, their attitude reformed and their beliefs towards food and nutrition changed for good. We believe our minor commencement can make the paramount impact in the lives of mother and children not just in Lubhu but throughout the country in the coming days.
If not now, WHEN? If not us, WHO? There is no better time than now.
It’s high time to make a difference and do something to bring about change by promoting the health and nutrition of mothers and children through information, education and communication at grassroot level.
Written by: Usha Sharma