Foodbank combats child malnutrition

Yeo (third from right) flanked by Seri Serdang assemblyman Abbas Azmi (to her right) and Seri Kembangan assemblyman Wong Siew Ki alongside supporters and recipients of the Kiddo Foodbank Puchong programme.

Low-income families in Puchong to get year’s supply of milk

THE issue of stunting among children in Malaysia has shown worrying trends, especially in urban poor areas.

Puchong MP Yeo Bee Yin said the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2022 showed that stunting among children had increased from 17.1% in 2015 to 21.2% in 2022.

“One in five children in Malaysia experiences impaired growth.

“This is significantly higher than the target of 11% set under the National Plan of Action for Nutrition Malaysia (NPANM) 2016-2025,” she said at the Kiddo Foodbank Puchong launch.

She added that it was also higher than rates in Singapore (3%), China (4.6%), Thailand (11.8%) and Sri Lanka (15.9%), and closer to the rates in Cambodia (22.3%) and Myanmar (24.1%).

The Puchong parliamentary constituency service centre organised eight “Jom Sihat” (Let’s Get Healthy) events, where one screening included assessing the growth of children under the age of six.

“A total of 228 children were screened and it was found that 35% were experiencing malnutrition.

“Malnutrition among children under six can have a negative impact on their cognitive development, subsequently affecting their learning when they enter school,” said Yeo, highlighting that this would potentially lead to other challenges such as low-income employment.

“This means that a child’s life and future are largely determined before they even start primary school,” she said.

The centre plans to distribute fortified milk to low-income families with malnourished children in Puchong, on a monthly basis for a year.

“Increasing daily milk intake, especially fortified milk, is an effective way to combat child malnutrition as it provides vital nutrients for growth, including high-quality protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals,” said Yeo.

The programme will also educate parents on care-giving and nutrition practices, she said.

“The biggest challenge is ensuring that the distributed milk is indeed consumed by the identified recipient,” she added.

Yeo said a business management system company, Sales Connection, would help develop an app to record the children’s growth progress and other related information.

Researchers from various universities were also invited to assess and review this programme both qualitatively and quantitatively.

“My hope is to propose a nationwide policy to address child malnutrition based on the Kiddo Foodbank Puchong programme’s experience and data after a year,” said Yeo.

“No child should be left behind in the nation’s development,” she said.

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