Strategic plan to prevent stunting in children approved

PUTRAJAYA – The Special Committee to Combat Double Burden of Malnutrition Among Children in Malaysia approved the 2022-2030 National Strategic Plan to Address the Problem of Stunting in Children in its first meeting today.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the national strategic plan would be presented to the Cabinet and the Finance Ministry so that the plan to combat malnutrition in children would be raised as a national agenda for the well-being of the Malaysian Family in the 2023 Budget.

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“Our target is to ensure that the problem of stunting among children can be reduced to at least eight per cent by 2030,” he told a press conference after officiating the #AnakMalaysiaSihat Media Programme here today.

The committee comprising personnel from the Health Ministry (MOH), Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM) and the Ministry of National Unity (KPN) studied the causes associated with the increasing rate of stunting among children, involving nutritional and environmental factors.

According to Khairy, the special committee will also focus on examining the problem of stunting in terms of economic and social aspects including access to adequate food, milk prices and other protein sources, seen as a burden to parents.

“We ask parents to buy milk and nutritious food but the prices of these goods keep fluctuating, so the committee must also focus on socio-economic determinants as well,” he said.

According to Khairy, stunting among children recorded an increase from 17 per cent in 2015 to 21.8 per cent in 2019.

He said the trend of nutritional deficiencies among children, especially those from low-income families, is expected to increase due to the protracted COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact on the people.

Khairy said stunting which is the inability of children to reach their ideal height is the result of chronic malnutrition where children do not have food of adequate quality and quantity over a long period of time.

Citing a study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), he said nearly half of the deaths among children under the age of five worldwide are linked to malnutrition, and stunting contributes to one million child deaths annually.