Pakistan

Pakistan: Peshawar: Every sixth child in IDP camps is malnourished

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By Ashfaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR, Oct 26: More than 15 per cent of the children, living in the camps set up by the government for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of Bajaur tribal region, are suffering from malnutrition.

According to a preliminary report of a survey by the United Nations (UN), prevalence of the global acute malnutrition in children was up to 15 per cent in the Kacha Garhi camp.

This was revealed during a meeting of the donor organisations held at the provincial directorate of health.

It discussed the health situation of the IDPs in 10 camps in different districts of the NWFP with special focus on the nutritional status of children and women.

According to initial screenings, the situation in other camps might be worst than the Kacha Garhi camp, health department officials told Dawn. The situation in others areas including camps in Lower Dir, Mardan, Charsadda and Nowshera might be worst as they were transitional camps and lacked basic facilities, they added.

Nutrition training on the Community Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) had already been completed in the Kacha Garhi camp and 10 persons, including lady health visitors, social organisers, field monitors, health management information system coordinators, data entry operators besides trained birth attendants had started screening of children between 6 to 9 months of age.

The officials said that besides, screening of pregnant and lactating women for assessment of malnutrition prevalence was also being carried out.

To make the exercise result-oriented, the staff had undertaken registration of moderate and severely malnourished children as part of supplementary feeding programme and therapeutic feeding programme respectively.

The meeting, chaired by director-health, was told that pregnant and lactating women would be registered in the supplementary feeding programme.

Apart from this, nutritional education regarding preparation and administration of the supplementary and therapeutic foods would be provided to the dwellers of the camps.

After completion of the survey, breast-feeding corners would be established to promote exclusive breast-feeding up to six months of age in order to encourage mothers for breast-feeding of their children. The meeting, which took exception to non-participation of the representatives of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UNHCR, requested the department of health and health cluster members to coordinate with nutrition programme in the camps.

The meeting was informed that screening of children for identification of malnutrition in the Khoongi Camp at Lower Dir had also been started.

The meeting said that there were 4,504 families or 31,154 persons residing in the IDPs camps while 6,441 families consisting of 67,766 IDPs lived with friends and relatives.

So far, only one child had born in the Kacha Garhi camp, whereas three deaths had occurred: one in Kacha Garhi and two in other camps.

The meeting said that they needed planning for the next six to nine months and suggested provision of winterised tents to save camp inmates from severe cold and diseases.

The already established tents would be covered with sheets to protect the IDPs, it decided.

It was informed that the establishment of new camps at the Jallozai had been delayed due to refusal by the University of Engineering and Technology to spare their land and currently it had been planned over 1,600 kanals of land there. The land would be levelled to house an estimated 3,000 families there with water and sanitation facilities, it said.

In the wake of the law and order situation, specially in the Kacha Garhi and the proposed Jallozai camps, the provincial police officer, had been asked by the governor to provide security to the people.

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