World Health Organization
Infant and Child Nutrition
Republic of Senegal
Fishers High School
The Republic of Senegal believes that the nutrition of infants and children is of utmost importance. In Senegal the percentage of children under the age of five stunting prevalence is 16.5%, according to UNICEF (“Senegal Nutrition Profile”). Compared to the stunting prevalence of children under five in 1992, of 34.4% (Spray 5), it’s clear that Senegal has made significant progress in this area. The percentage under-five wasting prevalence is 9% (“Senegal Nutrition Profile”). This shows no progress from 1992, when the prevalence of under-five wasting was also 9% (Spray 19). In addition, Senegal’s low birth weight prevalence rate has decreased from 22% in 2000 to 18.5% in 2015 (“Senegal Nutrition Profile”). However, Senegal’s low stunting prevalence, especially in comparison to other developing countries, makes it a leader in improving infant and child nutrition. Senegal has implemented a number of government campaigns to better infant and child nutrition. Currently Senegal’s primary program in this area is the Nutrition Enhancement Program (Spray 41). The program was built on the ideals of cooperation between NGOs, local governments, the private sector, and participating ministries (Spray 34). In development is the Multisectoral Strategic Nutrition Plan (Spray 41).
Senegal believes that breastfeeding, opposed to breastmilk substitutes, leads to physically and mentally healthier children and adults. 42.1% of children under 6 months of age in Senegal are exclusively breastfeed (“Senegal Nutrition Profile”). This number has increased drastically in recent years, as in 2016 the percentage of children 6 months being breastfed was only 33% (Diop, Ndeye). Similarly to other areas, such as stunting prevalence and low birth weight, the percent of children exclusively breastfed is significantly higher than the West African average of 30.8% (“Senegal Nutrition Profile”), making it a leader in the region. One action the government of Senegal has taken to increase this number is pass the 1994 Inter-ministerial Decree, which outlawed the promotion of Breastmilk Substitutes in health facilities (Diop, Ndeye). However, many continue to promote substitutes anyways, sometimes right after birth. Additionally, 40% of mothers reported seeing television advertisements for breastmilk substitutes (Diop, Nyeye) and the aggressive promotion of products also contribute to high percentages of BMS usage. Senegal believes that the adoption of laws like the 1994 Inter-ministerial Decree and subsequent enforcement of such laws would benefit countries with high BMS usage. In addition, laws that would regulate the promotion of BMS commercially could also benefit infant and child nutrition.
To elaborate on the effects of aggressive marketing, Senegal believes that regulations on the promotion of commercially produced foods would also better child nutrition. According to a survey conducted by the Assessment and Research on Child Feeding project, 80% of young children had eaten a commercially produced snack within a week of the survey interview (Diop, Nyeye).
- Caroline Adams