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Malnutrition makes our children short in height for their age

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© UNICEF Pacific_2020_Namohunu Hazel Shem, Registered Nurse, with a child and parent awaiting the health and nutrition check-up at the Auki Clinic in Solomon Islands.
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One in three children under five years in Solomon Islands suffers from chronic malnutrition and a short in height for their age.

According to a statement from UNICEF released today, Solomon Islands has one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the region with one in every three children under the age of five suffering from chronic malnutrition or stunting – having a short height for their age.

Malnutrition is a result from eating a diet which does not supply a healthy amount of one or more nutrients.

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The UNICEF statement says majority of these (Solomon Islands) children also suffer from anemia, which is due to iron deficiency.

UNICEF has now partnered with the Government of Solomon Islands to develop and share the High Impact Nutrition Intervention (HINI) guidelines and training package for healthcare workers across the country. The package targets the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, starting from conception, to give them the best possible start in life.

One of the nurses who attended a recent training organized by UNICEF in Auki said: “Now, I advise mothers and caregivers who come to the clinic to introduce fruit and vegetables to their child from six months on. Not only in the clinic, but at home too. I give lots of fruit and vegetables to my child too,” said Hazel Shem, a Registered Nurse in Malaita.

“Before, when we had babies who were suffering from malnutrition come into the clinic, we used to send them to a nearby hospital. But now we can definitely support them in our own clinic with good guidance and advice,” she said.

According to Shem they see about 50 to 100 babies and young children below the age of two every day in Auki with four registered nurses and it is heartbreaking to know that a lot of these babies are suffering from malnutrition without the right levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that a baby needs to grow well.

Meanwhile of the 1,700 children under five who die in the Pacific region every year, 80 per cent of them die before their first birthday and half of those do not survive through their first month of life with threats to health and nutrition.

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