World Health Organization
Infant and Child Nutrition
Forest Hills Eastern
The lack of nutrition, especially during the earlier stages of life, can lead to impaired cognitive abilities, increased susceptibility to diseases and infections, and starvation. The number of undernutrition has been on the rise since 2015. The UN has started campaigns to end hunger such as the Zero Hunger Challenge and the World Food Summit. In addition, agencies such as the WFP, FAO, and IFAD have all assisted in the urgent crisis of child hunger. UNICEF states that “ Every year, around 3 million children die due to undernutrition. For millions more, chronic malnutrition will result in stunting – an irreversible condition that literally stunts the physical and cognitive growth of children.” Children between the ages of zero through fourteen make up roughly 22.39% of the Bahama’s population. Many of these children do not have access to nutrient-rich foods that they need to develop. Although breastfeeding is strongly recommended within the first six months of the life of a child, many families cannot satisfy this need. With the rapidly growing population of the Bahamas, the proper nutrients for the everyday family are getting increasingly harder to access.
In order to combat this preventable tragedy, the Bahamas has created a National Lunch Program for families earning minimum wage or lower. This program ensures that the participants are provided a well-balanced lunch for their children at school. With this program, more children can have access to the nutrients they need not only to become healthier psychically but also mentally. The Bahamas has also worked to increase its agriculture sector. Readily available food sources in the country will lower the cost of food by decreasing the need for imports. A report by the Ministry of Health found that among children 4-9 years old in the Bahamas, 6.6% were underweight, 12.9% were stunted (a greater proportion of boys than girls) and 5.7% were wasting. The Bahamas created The National Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Action Plan for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, whose goal is to have “physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, at all times, to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.
The Bahamas urges that fortified foods and nutrient-rich foods should be more available to families of all backgrounds and employment situations. The rising number of jobs causes many women to work while nursing, causing many infants to lack essential nutrients that are only available from breastfeeding. These undernourished children will likely starve or become so malnourished that they are unable to grow the population as adults. In addition, sanitary procedures can be stricter to decrease food-related illnesses which can lead to undernutrition. Availability and nutrition of foods should be increased to ease the effects of child malnutrition to provide a brighter future and healthier lives for the posterity of the future generations of children.
- Jade Tarango