KABUL: Findings from the Ministry of Health show that about 36.6% of children in Afghanistan suffer from chronic malnutrition.
The ministry says 5 percent of children are severely malnourished and calls the death toll from the problem worrying.
Meska is the mother of a six-month-old child, and says that in order to feed Mustafa, she prepares a menu of fruits and strong foods on a daily basis. She breastfeeds her baby at least ten to fifteen times every day. Meska says a mother needs to eat more fruit and water, liquid foods that increase milk daily.
The World Health Organization has designated the first days of August 7th as World Breastfeeding Week.
In Afghanistan, where millions suffer from poverty, there are mothers who are malnourished due to poverty and whose children are malnourished.
The Ministry of Health is also concerned about malnutrition-related deaths of children and mothers, but does not have exact death toll.
According to the ministry, about 36.6 percent of children in Afghanistan are currently suffering from chronic malnutrition.
Mursal Manati, head of the nutrition department at the Ministry of Public Health, said that ministry has awareness programs for mothers on how to breastfeed their children.
“We have different programs to educate mothers who are advising mothers to prevent malnutrition, and for mothers to have a healthy baby, they need to be fully breastfed. The mother needs to be fed properly, otherwise the baby will be malnourished,” said Manati. “Unfortunately, 5 percent of children are severely malnourished, and that number is rising.”
According to Manati, full breastfeeding for children up to two years not only protects children from heart disease, gastrointestinal diseases and seasonal allergies and increases their body resistance to any disease, but also protects mothers from various diseases, especially cancer.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) wrote on its Twitter page this week that “breastfeeding is the baby’s first vaccine and protects against illness and death of children.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also called on breastfeeding mothers to breastfeed their infants regularly from one hour after birth to two years old.
Rula Ghani, Afghanistan’s first lady, said in a video on the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week: “The best food for a breastfed baby is to be fertilized one hour after birth for up to two years, especially in bulk, which acts as a vaccine. “It protects the baby against diseases and bacteria. Even in Surah Al-Baqarah, emphasis is placed on breastfeeding. Under breast milk helps the baby to have strong bones.”
Earlier, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) wrote in a report that two million children under the age of five and 485,000 pregnant and lactating women in 22 provinces were malnourished, a figure that the Department of Health said should be tackled and addressed.