Topic: Addressing the Issue of Malnutrition in Bangladesh
Chair: Saho Inagaki

Malnutrition; the lack of adequate nutrition. Today, many around the world suffer with this condition. Out of the world's entire population, 178 million are malnourished and from those, 20 million are at a risk of death. There are many causes to malnutrition such as: unbalanced diets, inadequate food consumes, problems with digestion or absorption and certain medical conditions. This condition is so mild in some cases that there aren't any symptoms. However, in other cases it could be so severe that a permanent damage is made to the body even if one survives.

Malnutrition has always been a significant problem, especially among children. It still continues to be an issue all around the world. Poverty of an individual or an entire nation, natural disasters, political issues and war are all contributions or even epidemics of malnutrition. The issue isn't limited to developing countries either. Bangladesh has been listed as a country with severely malnourished children.

Map of Bangladesh
Map of Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a Southern Asian country located between Burma and India. It has the population of approximately 150 million people and over 40% are children. Eight million or 48% of the children under the age of five are underweight. 1/4th of households are insecure in food and two million children ranging from six months to five years are affected by acute malnutrition. Being one of the poorest country in the world, and having economic distress conditions, Bangladeshi especially children are badly effected by malnutrition.
external image malnourished-children_7866.jpgNumbers of women and children suffer from one or several forms of malnutrition. This includes low birth weight, stunting, underweight, Vitamin A deficiency, iodine deficiency disorders and anaemia. Malnutrition is most likely to pass on from one generation to the future generations. In the country, newborn deaths make up almost half of all under five-aged deaths as well. According to UNICEF, one neonate dies in Bangladesh every three to four minutes; a total of 120,000 each year.

Bangladesh is currently working to achieve multiple Millennium Development Goals. (MDGs) One of it's MDGs is to reduce the under-five mortality rate to 50 per 1,000 live births from the current 65 out of 1000 by 2015. However, UNICEF Representative Carel de Rooy stated that Unless the current level of Bangladeshi malnutrition is urgently addressed, it is unlikely that the goal is to be achieved and sustained.

Even though the country is far away from losing it's difficult situation, Bangladesh has been making superior achievements. For example, the child mortality rate was halved from 1990 till now. Also, during the nine years from 1996 to 2005, the prevalence rate of underweight children fell 11 percent; from 56 to 45. At the same time, stunting fell from 55 to 40 percent.

Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2006, have been distributing over 89% of the children aged 9 to 59 months Vitamin-A supplements, saving over 30,000 children each year. 84% of edible salt is being iodinated (a process in which iodine is added) in order to reduce iodine deficiency disorders. Salt iodinazation has also resulted in dropping the number of the goitres disease from 50% to 6%. Community Nutrition Promoters (CNPs) are also working in 24,000 community nutrition centers in the country making services such as providing information, advice and counselling sessions in order to improve the nutritional status of children, adolescent girls and women.

Bangladeshi people have been suffering due to the malnutrition problem since the British occupation period. From this time, many governments have come but none of them had taken any step to remove or even reduce the poverty. People especially village people have been facing this malnutrition problem seriously.

Recently, the local and International NGOs have been contributing a lot to remove poverty from Bangladesh. However, they haven't done much to change the overall economic conditions in the village area. They have received a lot more than what they are actually providing for the poor. Therefore, in the Dhaka city in Bangladesh, one can see a high rise luxurious building for the NGO owners.

Jobs are one major cause of malnutrition in Bangladesh. They don't have working facilities through out the entire year. The industrialization in the nation isn't successful enough to assure the job facilities either. Since the country can't produce enough of their own products, the country is fully dependent on China and India. Yet, people are still striving for necessities.

In 2008, a calamity for the nation happened;the global financial crisis. It had an effect on Bangladesh directly and also indirectly. Food prices increased leaving an immense impact on the citizens. Foreign countries that used to aid the country used the crisis as an excuse to quit aiding countries. Economic recessions are troubling people and making them live in subsistence. People don't have the surplus to look after another person who may be living a harsher condition.

Previously, UNICEF proposed that the definition of poverty must be defined clearly and properly in order to prevent wealthy countries from using the financial crisis as an excuse to quit their aiding. They also believe that investing resources into good nutrition, primary health care, education and protection for children will create a establish a better future.

Questions to Consider
> Will Bangladesh improve without the help of other nations? What could other nations do to help?

  • What can be done to make a change?
  • Are the NGOs taking advantage of the donations for poor?
  • Do people around the world know about this issue?
  • What kind of organizations should help them?
  • What is the definition of poverty? Is the idea different between countries with different conditions?

Works Cited
BANGLADESH: Children and women suffer severe malnutrition.” IRIN. N.p., 19 Nov. 2009. Web. 19 May 2010. <‌Report.aspx?ReportId=81544>.
Central Intelligence Agency, CIA. “Bangladesh.” The World Fact Book. Central Intelligence Agency, 22 Apr. 2010. Web. 5 May 2010. <‌library/‌publications/‌the-world-factbook/‌geos/‌bg.html>.
“Effects of the Financial Crisis on Vulnerable Households.” Effects of the Financial Crisis on Vulnerable Households. United Nations Food Programme, 26 Mar. 2009. Web. 21 May 2010. <‌stellent/‌groups/‌public/‌documents/‌ena/‌wfp203558.pdf>.
“Issue Details : Malnutrition.” Independent Medical-Humanitarian Action. Independent Medical-Humanitarian Action, n.d. Web. 21 May 2010. <‌nc/‌about-msf/‌where-we-work/‌issue-details/‌?tx_ttnews[issue]=9&gclid=COz47tTV4qECFcgUzAodHFNLKQ>.
“Malnutrition.” Medline Plus. ADAM Inc., 12 May 2009. Web. 6 June 2010. <‌medlineplus/‌ency/‌article/‌000404.htm>.
UNICEF, Christine Jaulmes, and UNICEF. “Child malnutrition and household food insecurity remain major concerns for Bangladesh.” UNICEF . UNICEF, 29 Mar. 2009. Web. 9 Apr. 2010. <‌media/‌media_48981.html>.