Educate young parents, private-govt partnership to solve stunting among kids, say experts
04 Oct 2022 04:11pm
Nutritionist Prof Poh Bee Koon, of Health Sciences faculty, of UKM says data from National Health and Morbidity Survey shows stunting is on the increase for 2011 at 16.6 per cent, 2015 (17.7 per cent) and 2019 (21.8 per cent). - file pic Bernama
This comes as South East Asian Nutrition Surveys II (SEANUTS II) results commissioned by FrieslandCampina and conducted by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia shows
84 per cent and 70 per cent of children do not meet the average needs of vitamin D and calcium respectively.
Children drink less than 100 ml of milk, fewer than five times a week.
It further stated that 1 in 3 children do not consume breakfast daily and 40 per cent of children under 4 years of age have anemia.
Dutch Lady Milk Industries (DLMI) Managing Director Ramjeet Kaur Virik said malnutrition impacts the core of a child’s physical and cognitive growth.
"This makes it a social and economic issue that can impact the potential of the countries.
Due to that, she said a public-private partnership can play a critical role in fighting malnutrition and ensuring effective action and policies are implemented on the ground.
She called on the government to be more inclusive in its planning to address stunting and
malnutrition among children.
She said her company advocates government’s national health agenda to mitigate stunting and
micronutrient deficiencies in children.
"This is to improve the nutritional status of Malaysians as we strive for a healthier
Malaysia," she said, this includes producing healthy dairy product options under Health Ministry’s Healthier Choice Logo (HCL) initiative.
The calls come as schools globally celebrate World School Milk Day to create awareness of the importance of milk among the young.
Ramjeet said DLMI is happy to partner with the government to mitigate public health crisis which includes stunting, obesity and micronutrient deficiencies in children and to improve the nutritional status of Malaysians.
To combat the stunting problem, the health ministry has set up a Special Committee to combat malnutrition and stunting in children of which a public-private partnership could be formed.
The Committee comprises personnel from the health ministry, education ministry,
women, family and community development ministry and the national unity ministry.
Nutritionist Prof Poh Bee Koon, of Health Sciences faculty, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said young parents need to be educated on the importance of milk and fortified food.
She said data from National Health and Morbidity Survey shows stunting is on the increase for 2011 at 16.6 per cent, 2015 (17.7 per cent) and 2019 (21.8 per cent).
It also showed children do not consume enough dairy products.
She told Sinar Daily that authorities need to have proper policies and strategies to tackle both sides of malnutrition.
One of the strategies was to fortify or boost food with essential nutrients that are commonly lacking in the diet.
For instance, she said the health ministry recently announced mandatory fortification of iron and folic acid for wheat flour.
"We also need to improve accessibility to healthy and a variety of food while increasing nutrition education and health promotion to the public, particularly young parents," she said.
Ramjeet added they are also constantly innovating such as fortifying Vitamin D in milk to absorb calcium within children and ensuring it's full cream milk is high in calcium.
Other efforts are holding a Smart Partnership with the education ministry Program Susu Sekolah (School Milk Programme) and had distributed 165 million packs of milk to 4.3 million students from 2011 to 2017.
Other school programmes are organising School Milk Programme 2022 across nationwide to work together to address nutritional challenges to improve the health of the future generation on the country.
By the end of this programme in 2023, DLMI would have supplied close to 22 million packs of milk products to nourish over 115,000 primary school children in Malaysia, she added.
A Special Branch officer of the Kedah contingent police headquarters died after he was shot during an operation against encroachment and illegal hunting in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve.