THE country needs more awareness programmes and education on nutrition, says Health Minister Sir Puka Temu.
“There needs to be awareness and education for pregnant and breastfeeding women, promoting good sanitation and hygienic practices, and providing access to clean water to prevent diseases that compromise nutrition,” he said.
Sir Puka was responding to reports and statistics that rate PNG’s nutritional and malnutrition level as the worst in the Pacific region.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), malnutrition is a silent killer and the leading cause of death among children under five years old.
It said almost one in two children in PNG have stunted growth from chronic malnutrition.
A report commissioned by Save the Children Fund estimates that malnutrition could be the underlying cause of up to 76 per cent of deaths of children under five.
It said not only did malnutrition pose a threat to the survival and development of children in Papua New Guinea, it also posed a major threat to sustainable economic growth. “Evidence shows that if a child is malnourished from conception to their second birthday, they will suffer cognitive and physical impairments that are permanent and irreversible,” it said. “These impairments limit a child’s education and employment prospects.”