Pakistan: Child malnutrition among quake survivors
Pakistan: UN study recommends steps to fight child malnutrition among quake survivors
Seven months after the earthquake that devastated Pakistan in October, malnutrition persists as one of the major problems for children under the age of five in the affected areas, but the situation is gradually improving, thanks in part to an ambitious United Nations-backed survey of survivors.
Coordinated by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with Pakistan’s Ministry of Health, the joint survey has provided vital information needed to improve health and nutrition interventions.
Its recommendations include targeted supplementary feeding for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers; improved infant feeding practices, with a focus on breastfeeding; and increased hygiene education and practice on the use of latrines and handwashing, and better sanitation management in camps for the survivors.
“We needed to have a baseline in order to have a monitoring process established,” UNICEF Nutrition Project Officer Moazzem Hossain said, explaining that the survey emerged from a need “to see whether the situation is deteriorating or whether the situation is improving and whether the interventions are working.”
The data collected in the survey have been helping agencies on the ground to monitor their continuing relief efforts, making sure that the most vulnerable children get the best possible care and assistance following the quake, which killed over 73,000 people, injured nearly 70,000 others and left millions more homeless.
Collecting the complex data was a challenging task, since the quake zone included difficult mountainous terrain.