Sunday, 3 March, 2024

Malnourished Babies

Working mothers are common in modern society, which is also making its prevalence in Nepal. There is another traditional breed of mothers, who have to do domestic works as busy bees, who even have no enough time to devote themselves for the care of their infants. In this scenario, babies are at the receiving end of the problem. A news report published in this daily on Thursday said that babies of the busy mothers are found to be suffering from malnutrition which health experts describe as severe acute malnutrition (SAM). These cases have come from remote mountain district of Baitadi in far-western Nepal. It is not only the health of babies that have been affected. Mothers too have become the victims of malnutrition. Mothers naturally need nutritious food and extra time for rest during pregnancy and in the post-natal situations. Poverty alone may not be the reason for this problem. Education and awareness is also essential for making a positive difference.

The Anarkholi Health Post in Baitadi had received unhealthy and weak infants and some of whom were diagnosed with SAM. The mothers and babies were referred to the National Rehabilitation Home at Dadeldhura Sub-regional Hospital. At this facility, the mothers and babies are given nutritious diets to improve their health. Mothers are also provided counseling service about the importance of nutrition. Breast feeding provides the best nutrition for the infants but when mothers themselves are malnourished and too busy to breastfeed their babies, the young ones naturally suffer. During pregnancy, one of the common nutritional problems faced by women is anemia or blood deficiency. The problem gets even worse during child delivery which causes significant loss of blood. In this situation, mothers are in dire need of nutritious food that is rich in vitamins and iron. Only then is the mother able to breastfeed her child. The mother and baby also need hygienic condition and safety from cold and infection. Lack of warm bed make the child prone to the problem like pneumonia early in life. Such a trouble pesters one throughout the life.

Malnutrition and exposure to unhygienic physical conditions have been the major causes of infant and mother mortality in Nepal. The roots of the problems are related to financial condition, awareness and access to health facilities. Things could be changed for better if women health workers and volunteers are trained and mobilised in the needy rural areas. In Baitadi, the concerned women have recounted the tale of hardship that they are so busy at domestic chores that they cannot find sufficient time to feed and care their babies. Early marriage, gender disparity, ignorance and other social stigmas have made the situation worse. The government has launched free birthing service and is giving nutritious food to mothers after child delivery. But the problem is that some areas still lack birthing centres and women are compelled to deliver baby at home. On top of all women and their male counterparts in the family need to be properly educated about the importance of nutrition and safe motherhood.