The number of children with various forms of malnutrition is on the rise in Bamiyan and has “doubled” over the past month, doctors said, citing poor economy and lack of awareness among families as its main causes.
Doctors in 105-bed hospital in Bamiyan, which is the only public health facility in the center of the province, said that two to three children are admitted to the hospital on a daily basis over facing severe forms of malnutrition while over 100 children are brought to the center every day, most of whom face at least one symptom of malnutrition.
The children brought to the hospital are under the age of six years. On August 24, at least 24 children with malnutrition were taken to the provincial hospital.
The hospital has 246 employees. Its patients come from Bamiyan districts as well as from neighboring provinces of Baghlan, Samangan, Sar-e-Pul, Ghor, Daikundi, and Maidan Wardak.
“The number of children who face malnutrition is on the rise and has doubled compared to the past month,” said Dr Abdi Mohammad Abdi, head of Bamiyan hospital.
He said the reason behind the increase in malnutrition among the children is poverty among families and lack as they cannot adequately feed their children, as well as lack of awareness.
A woman who brought her child to the hospital from Shaheedan village, 25 kilometeres away from the health center, said the clinic in their area was not well-equipped to treat her child. She said they borrowed some money from their friends and took her child to the only public hospital in the center of Bamiyan.
The woman said her child is under treatment at the hospital for over five days and is recovering well.
Atifa Hassanyar, mother of another child, said she admitted her child eight days ago and he is recovering well.
Obaidullah Sediqqi, a paediatrician, said children face malnutrition due to lack of good nutrition and poor maternal health.
“Children brought to this hospital who face malnutrition are under the age of years,” he said.
Awareness among families
A non-governmental organization has provided training programs for at least 500 people in the province about mother and child’s health. More than 200 of them were graduated after a short-term training last week.
Rahmat Faraz, an organizer of the training program, said those who have graduated can help others in their communities as health experts.
“People should have required awareness about their responsibilities towards each other because the health of child and mother is important,” he said.
Ziagul, a participant of the program, said it was useful for them as they learned what to feed children and mothers.
Figures by the Ministry of Public Health show that at least 200,000 people, including children and mothers, have faced malnutrition in Afghanistan over the past month.
A UN report in May said that in Afghanistan, 1.1 million children under the age of 5 will likely face the most severe form of malnutrition this year as increasing numbers of hungry, wasting-away children are brought into hospital wards.