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Congo: Malnutrition rates “at 15.4%”

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NAIROBI, 3 June 2009 (IRIN) – Nutritional surveillance should be reinforced and therapeutic and supplementary feeding units extended to reduce high malnutrition levels in the Republic of Congo, according to a survey conducted by the government and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The nutrition and health survey, which sampled 2,734 children from birth to 59 months, found 15.4 percent to be chronically malnourished or suffer retarded growth. At least 9.5 percent were malnourished and 10.4 percent suffered low weight.

The high levels were attributed to few children being exclusively breastfed – only 15-26 percent – and low consumption of vitamin A-rich foods, as well as a lack of dietary diversity.

Survey results showed boys to be more affected than girls at 17.9 percent versus 12.8 percent, with malnutrition levels peaking in the nought to five-month age group in urban zones, and among six- to 17-month-olds in rural areas.

Mothers’ health habits were also surveyed, with 2,173 sampled. Between 20 and 29 percent of new mothers were not examined after delivery, 44-53 percent were not provided with Vitamin A supplementation, and up to half did not seek care for infant fever and coughs, stated the survey, adding that there was limited anti-malaria control and use of oral rehydration salts to treat infant diarrhoea.

At least 72 to 78 percent of new mothers did not breastfeed their children within one hour of delivery and a lack of access to maternal health services, especially in the rural areas, is also to blame.

The survey was conducted among households in the urban districts of Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire and the rural areas of Bouenza, Likouala, Plateaux and Pool.

aw/mw

[END] A selection of IRIN reports are posted on ReliefWeb. Find more IRIN news and analysis at http://www.irinnews.org

Une sélection d’articles d’IRIN sont publiés sur ReliefWeb. Trouvez d’autres articles et analyses d’IRIN sur http://www.irinnews.org

This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. Refer to the IRIN copyright page for conditions of use.

Cet article ne reflète pas nécessairement les vues des Nations Unies. Voir IRIN droits d’auteur pour les conditions d’utilisation.

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