NUTRITION SURVEY FOR CHILDREN AND WOMEN IN WEST AFRICA
This survey is about the reports of nutrition for the impact of food scarcity, breastfeeding problem and HIV in western Africa conducted by Food and Agricultural Organization, Rome Italy 2001 to 2004 that includes additional data for 2006 and was published by International Nutrition Foundation.
Communicable diseases, food insecurity, HIV, drought, poverty and other related issues have brought the communities of Africa to helplessness and scarcity. The objective of this survey is to measure and determine the short term and long term trends in children and women’s malnutrition in western part of Africa and how they have been affected by lack of vitamins, HIV and other diseases. The participating countries include Nigeria, Togo, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Gambia, Mali and other countries. The data collected comes from United Nations, Labor Offices, Non Government Organizations and others.
The Nutrition situation is malnutrition among children and according to t he survey almost 33 percent of children 5 years old or less are underdeveloped and 10 percent are exhausted or exposed to various diseases. The worst undernourished case was in Niger that includes people young and old alike are affected or almost half of the population is not in good nutrition.
For children the following figures have been identified to easily pinpoint the simple data, Population prevalence of malnourished children of 5 years or less as of last 2001are as follows: Niger 20%, Nigeria 25%, Gambia 6%, Senegal 10%, Guinea 10.1% Guinea-Bissau 13% Liberia 19% Sierra Leone 16% Togo 6.5% Ghana 9% Benin 11% Mauritania 16% Mali 19.5% Burkina Faso 16% Coite de Ivoire 10% this data shows no improvement in the last decade and that West Africa continuous to experience malnutrition especially among children. The figures is taken from Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) and the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS)
These data shows the reason why women cannot give sufficient breastfeeding energy to their children because they themselves are affected of malnutrition because of insufficient intake of dietary fiber and diseases of women are the determinants why they cannot give proper milk to their children. Women’s breastfeeding is practiced all throughout West Africa in Urban and Rural areas but the introduction to other liquids also affects their breastfeeding habit that makes malnutrition of children more severe. For Women shows the trends in chronic energy deficiency of women at the age of 15 to 50 include the following data; Niger 20.7% Burkina Faso 13.2% Coe de ivoire 7.4% Ghana 11% Benin 10.5%
The micronutrients deficiency show a tremendous problem for women and children in most West African countries the lack of iodine, vitamins and minerals inadequate intake of dietary supplements and mal absorption may cause birth deficiency including birth defects, maternal problem, infection and death before birth can also be experience especially from very young children of 15 years of age who do not have enough resistance to give birth.
There are also food insecurity determinants that cause malnutrition in West Africa that they have long experienced. Malnutrition maybe cause by overpopulation that results in scarcity and unequal distribution of food that shows there are 226 million people in the region as of 2002 and will continue to increase for about 3 percent annually and the fertility rate is about 6 children for every women therefore the projected population for 2030 would reach as high as 430 million which is nearly double their population.
Additionally HIV or aids has caused a major devastation and death in African nations, this causes massive diseases and sometimes death. The epidemiology has been covering the entire African continent that provides even more problem in their health. While the consumption of healthy foods and dietary fiber has been negligible because of low production and instability. The economic consideration is also a determinant in their food preferences since they cannot suffice their budget to buy healthy food. The introduction of street food is unwise and unhealthy although can be cheaply bought within the community. All this adds up to the reasons why the malnutrition in the West African nations continues to experience such poverty and malnutrition of children and adults.
The government has also initiated food based nutrition projects to alleviate vitamin and nutritional deficiency in most countries in West Africa. In Niger the Ministry of Health and Education has created a project based approach to eliminate vitamin A through horticultural assistance program that encourage communities to plant on their own backyard to create their own food rather than buy on public markets and farmers. This project creates awareness to the people and somehow takes pride on their welfare but the government and the people still have a long way to go to maintain or decrease the malnutrition in West Africa.