Malnutrition is known as both under nutrition and over nutrition. We are going to discuss under nutrition today.
Malnutrition is a leading primary health care problem which leads to the persistence of health problems such as malaria, HIV/AIDs and tuberculosis.
Groups more vulnerable to malnutrition
Most of the groups affected by malnutrition are infants and children under the age of 59 months because of their rapid growth and development, pregnant and lactating women, malnourished pregnant women give birth to low birth weight babies risking the baby to malnutrition which may lead to stunted growth, mortality and morbidity and also mental disabilities. also affected are the elderly especially when they receive little or no care at all, those with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, the immuno-suppressed patients and the adolescents, especially women because they depend on nutrition to sustain the changes that occur in their bodies.
Causes of malnutrition
- Poverty and the prices of food.
- The economic status of the area.
- Lack of breast feeding. This may cause malnutrition to the infant.
- Poor mobility. This comes in hand when there is poor transportation of food to the affected areas.
- Political instability.
- Poor agricultural production in the area or the country at large.
- Increased infectious diseases such as diarrhea lead to poor absorption of nutrients.
Prevention of malnutrition
- Provide the people in the affected areas with fortified foods, especially those with lots of nutrients.
- Introduce irrigation in the areas to prevent food shortage at all times.
- Provide a much comfortable life to the people by providing food and shelter to them.
- Educate the people so that they can get their own incomes to purchase food.
- Treat primary health diseases that lead to malnutrition.
Parts in Kenya mostly affected by malnutrition
- Arid and semi arid areas such as North Eastern, northern part of Eastern, some parts of southern Eastern such as Kitui.
- Emergency areas such as Dadaab.
- Places affected by floods such as Budalangi.
Malnutrition leads to the persistence of infections such as malaria, HIV/AIDs and tuberculosis. It also increases the risk of HIV/AIDs transmission from mother to child.
In children, it leads to mental disability and there are cases of low blood sugar sugar due to malnutrition which can be detected by convulsion.
Protein – energy malnutrition
Most commonly known type of under nutrition is the protein energy malnutrition. This includes kwashiorkor and marasmus.
Kwashiorkor is caused by protein deficiency and the signs are edema, dry and peeling skin, de-pigmented skin and hair and belly swelling.
Marasmus is caused by protein and energy deficiency. Signs and symptoms include stunted growth and wasting of the muscles and tissues.