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General News of Sunday, 15 February 2015

Source: The Post Newspaper

Malnutrition is stagnating Cameroon’s economic growth - UNICEF Boss

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The Resident Representative of the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, in Cameroon, Fecilité Tchibindat, says malnutrition in children is not only a health problem in Cameroon, but it is also impeding the country’s economic growth.

She made the remark in Yaounde recently, while launching a film on child malnutrition which is caused by inadequate food intake. UNICEF bankrolled the production of the film as part of its sensitisation and advocacy campaign against malnutrition in Cameroon.

It was in this perspective that the UNICEF boss said malnutrition was a big problem on the country’s economy. To her, Cameroon loses three percent of economic growth annually due to malnutrition in children.

According to official statistics, Cameroon is the hub of chronic malnourished children in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, CEMAC. It is reported that President Paul Biya’s country represents 44 percent of malnourished children in the CEMAC Sub region.

The UNICEF boss said the areas in Cameroon affected by acute forms of malnutrition are: the Far North, North, Adamawa and East Regions. The Post learnt that close to half of the children from poorest households and 79 percent from households where the mothers have no education are chronically malnourished.

Even though malnutrition is rampant in rural areas of the country, the UN Official said its impact on the social and the economic development of the country was overwhelming. The UNICEF boss said even though the film produced by Cameroon’s foremost film maker, Bessek ba Kobhio, is a piece of fiction, it portrays the sad realities of children’s malnutrition in Cameroon.

It is, to her, a byword of the story that 33 percent of children in Cameroon suffer from chronic malnutrition. While corroborating this view, the Secretary General in the Ministry of Public Health, lauded UNICEF for the initiative, saying the film will accelerate the fight against malnutrition.

Taking the floor at the ceremony that took place at the Yaounde Hilton hotel, the producer of the film expressed the wish to see the film distributed all over the country and abroad. The short film makes a parody of children who eat just anything just to keep body and soul together.

It shows children in poverty-stricken situations eating just anything regardless of the different classes of food and they drink dirty water. The consequences are that, such children suffer from diseases such as diarrhea and acute respiratory infections, among others.

In order to stem the tides of malnutrition in Cameroon, UNICEF has been promoting good feeding practices for infants and young children, breastfeeding and complementary feeding.

The UN agency also fights micronutrient deficiencies through food fortification and micronutrient supplementation. It also manages cases of severe malnutrition.

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