A baby born today is the parent of the tomorrow. Their early physical and mental health is the key to the overall development of their personal as well nation’s life. They require total care and attention from the very beginning. They need to be provided nutritious and balanced foods to boost healthy growth and immune system. The high intake of minerals and vitamins such as protein and calcium is essential to avoid stunting as well as obesity. Medical experts note that newborns require proper amount of nutritious foods for they have low stores of fat and protein, and are unable to fight starvation for a longer period.
Another important point is that infancy marks a period of rapid growth. When a baby reaches 4 months, around 30 per cent of their nutritional intake is spent on his/her growth. A baby develops brain during first two years of his/her life. Their brain’s cells grow and evolve into a system during this time. Nutrition is also closely linked to the growth of the children height. An infant, who is deprived of nutrition, will not be taller in height. Multiple researches have shown that children suffering from acute malnutrition are at greater risk of catching the diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, diabetes and lung infection in their adult life.
Malnutrition is one of the key causes behind the high infant mortality rate in Nepal. In 1970s, more than 70 per cent children suffered from malnutrition and by 2016, the rate had fallen to 36 per cent, according to the official data. The prevalent status of undernutrition children is a stark reminder that health policy must focus on reducing malnutrition for the quality life of the people and generation of robust human resources. Nepal government along with donor agencies have made efforts to ensure that infants are not subject to stunting and won’t develop health complications in the future. The other day President Bidya Devi Bhandari launched the National Nutrition Campaign seeking to adopt integrated measures for providing nutritious foods to the children aged between six and 23 months, pregnant women and women of reproductive age.
Nepal is striving to end the malnutrition by 2030. As the part of the first nutrition plan (2013-2017), the Campaign will be first implemented in State 5 and then gradually taken to the remaining States. The initiative is expected to scale up the number of service deliveries and oblige them to increase nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions. In her remark, President Bhandari highlighted that the children’s access to health and education were their fundamental rights and called for strengthening coordination among the concerned agencies for the effective enforcement of the campaign. The local elected officials and health workers should be engaged in educating the parents about the important of nutritious foods and breastfeeding to the sound health of the newborns. Likewise, the tendency of early marriage must be discouraged because the babies of premature mothers are likely to suffer various health problems. Incentives should be given to produce foods applying nutrition criteria and replace junk foods with the homemade ones for the healthy growth of the babies.