Nutrition

The Problem

Malnutrition is a major public health problem in Afghanistan. Malnutrition is associated with one-third of all child deaths worldwide. Undernourished children are more likely to die from common childhood ailments, and for those who survive, they are more likely to have recurring sicknesses and faltering growth. Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of maternal, neonatal and infant mortality and the highest rates of stunting (55%)[1] in the world. Nutrition among women in Afghanistan is also very poor. 48.4% of non-pregnant women are iron deficient, 25% suffer from anaemia, and 75% of women of reproductive age are iodine deficient. According to the MoPH, 23% of lactating women have a body mass index of <18 kg/m2 and 19% of pregnant women have a mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) of less than 21 centimetres. Malnourished women, in addition to their own serious health concerns, have an increased risk of delivering low birth weight babies who have suffered intra uterine growth retardation.

The 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday offer a unique window of opportunity to shape healthier and more prosperous futures. Proper nutrition during this period can have a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn, live a healthy and productive life, and rise out of poverty. Efforts to counter the effects of malnutrition during this time can prevent, or even reverse, the negative impacts of under-nutrition. But if the opportunity is missed, the child will suffer the negative consequences of under-nutrition for the rest of his/her life.

What we do

To improve the poor nutrition status and to reduce preventable deaths among children, Save the Children implements a comprehensive approach:

  • Providing treatment for children with acute malnutrition in therapeutic feeding sites located in health facilities.
  • Prevention of malnutrition through promotion of optimal infant and young child feeding (IYCF), health, nutrition and hygiene education and caring and feeding practices of caregivers through individual counseling and peer support in the communities and health facilities.
  • Building capacity of health and nutrition service providers to provide high quality nutrition services to the children with malnutrition.
  • Mobilize community and train community health workers to identify and refer children who suffer from acute malnutrition to the feeding sites also raise knowledge, awareness to address maternal nutrition, appropriate young child feeding, anemia and hygiene practices.

[1] National nutrition survey 2004