World Health Organization
Infant and Child Nutrition
Trinidad and Tobago
Forest Hills Eastern
Malnutrition is the ninth greatest cause of death in children worldwide, coming just after newborn infections (exempting newborn sepsis) and before road accidents. Lack of access to clean drinking water and nutritious foods are a few causes of malnutrition. Proper nutrition is especially important to the growing bodies of infants and children, as malnutrition can lead to cognitive and physical complications, leaving them more susceptible to health issues. UNICEF claims that 3.1 million children under 5 die annually due to malnutrition globally. These vast numbers show the immediate cause for concern on the global issue. Obesity, a form of malnutrition, greatly affects Central and Southern America, and is “especially prevalent in women and children,” according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Pan American Health Organization, with one of the highest rates being in Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago, where 20% of people in 2014 live below the poverty line (CIA World Factbook), malnutrition is a very real possibility for infants and children.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Health, addressed the issue of malnutrition. In 2014, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations published a speech from Dr. Rajiv Seereeram of Trinidad and Tobago (according to FAO). In his speech, Dr. Seereeram emphasized the issue of obesity, which affects “up to one third of urban school children,” as well as the issue of iron deficiency and childhood protein energy malnutrition. According to Dr. Seereeram, the National Nutrition Education Program provides educational workshops in local schools and health centers. More generally, the FAO and WHO made progress on preventing and treating malnutrition. For example, in 2016, the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and its Framework for Action to “eradicate hunger and prevent all forms of malnutrition worldwide.” Anemia and diabetes, which can both be caused or linked to malnutrition, are also prevalent in Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Health creates and distributes information on malnutrition, has preventive programs to fight malnutrition, distributes food to those in need, and coordinates seminars that utilize various healthcare workers.
Trinidad and Tobago recommends modification of school lunches, strengthening of local programs aimed to distribute nutritious food to those living under the poverty line, and efforts towards water sanitation. Proper nutrition is something that can be unattainable for families living in poverty, and they are the most at risk. Consequently, programs should especially target children living in poverty, who are the most at risk for diseases, death, and deficiencies.
- Halle Mikula