By DOROTHY MARK
Malnutrition continues to be a significant impediment to the nation’s health, social and economic development, according to National Food Security Policy Project coordinator Regina Nukundj.
During a presentation by Nukundj at a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) workshop in Madang this week, Nukundj said children under the age of five suffered from malnutrition because they were not given the right kinds of food.
“Statistics show that our children suffering from malnutrition is the highest in the South Pacific region,” she said.
“Almost one in two children in Papua New Guinea has stunted growth due to chronic malnutrition.
“Papua New Guinea has the fourth highest stunting rate in the world.
“Under-nutrition robs children of their growth, education and employment prospects and threatens their survival.”
Nukundj said national data showed that sickness in about 33 per cent of sick children less than five years-old admitted in hospitals were either directly or indirectly caused by malnutrition.
She said the effect of that in the long run posed a threat in sustainable economic development.
Nukundj said K9 million was spent between 2015 and 2016 on treatment for diseases associated with malnutrition.
She said the National Food Security Policy priority focus was to elaborate on the potential of agriculture to promote and enhance nutrition and health through encouraging smallholder farming from where 8 per cent of food supply had good nutrition for children.
Women selling their best home-grown vegetables and garden food in markets to earn money and not leaving the best for their children were among concerns raised.
Preservation and storage of staple food during the dry season was one of the main topics discussed.
Food and Agriculture Organisation chose Madang, Milne Bay and Chimbu as pilot provinces for food security plan and rollout.
The two-day workshop was for stakeholders to put a plan together to address food security in the provinces.
By DOROTHY MARK