Health Ministry working to improve nutrition among orang asli children

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 07 May 2019

IPOH: The Health Ministry has been carrying out programmes to improve nutrition among orang asli children at Pos Kemar near Gerik since 2010.

In a statement issued by Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu’s office, it stated that the initiative under the Community Feeding Programme had been expanded to seven settlements from the initial four.

It added that there were 17 feeding centres in Pos Kemar.

According to the information gathered by the Mentri Besar’s office from the state Health Department, local volunteers provide children there with milk, biscuits and vitamins once a week.

“However, Kampung Ralak, and seven other orang asli settlements could not be reached under the programme due to logistics and transportation issues.

“There are a total of 643 children below six in Pos Kemar and out of that, 86 of them are suffering from malnutrition. These children are part of the programme,” the statement read.

The statement also added that 80% of children in Pos Kemar had received the polio vaccination, while 75% had received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

It added that the remaining children failed to get the vaccinations as their parents moved deeper into the jungles.

On claims of rampant logging in Gerik, the statement read that the state consistently complies with the annual logging quota set by the National Land Council.

“The Mentri Besar will not hesitate to freeze any logging licences if the activities do not comply with the requirements.

“For example, logging activities along Sungai Rui in Gerik has been ordered to stop pending investigations into river pollution problems,” added the statement.

The Mentri Besar's office also said that logging activities are carried out through a selective logging method where only trees which meet standard requirements are allowed to be logged after the tagging process.

“The state government is fully committed to improving the livelihood of the 60,000 orang asli in the state.

“There are a total of 256 orang asli settlements scattered in several districts in the state, with the largest number of settlements located in Chenderiang (101 villages), the constituency of the Mentri Besar,” added the statement.

The statement was issued after The Star carried a report on Apr 30 on the poor nutrition among the orang asli in Pos Kemar and claims by the community that there was not enough food to feed the children.

The orang asli had also claimed that there is little left of their food bank, the jungle due to rampant deforestation.

Since June 2018, three blockades have been established in the area- in Kampung Tasik Asal Cunex, Kampung Ralak and Kampung Cenawing- as the orang asli fight to protect their ancestral land from being logged.

Earlier after witnessing a Memorandum of Understanding between Scanda Sky and Amal by Malaysia Airlines Berhad for the Kuala Lumpur-Ipoh-Guangzhou route at a hotel here, Ahmad Faizal told reporters that reporting must be done in a responsible manner.

He said that there must be sufficient proof of the claims of malnutrition among the children from the community.

Ahmad Faizal said he would check with the district officer and other relevant agencies on the claims made in the newspaper report, and proper action would be taken to improve the situation if there was any truth to it.

“I will need all the details so that action can be taken if indeed what is claimed is true. There are also children who stay in urban areas from poor family backgrounds that need nutrition.

“ The state government has introduced the ‘Food Card’ to help families to get nutritional food, including those living in the interior as well as the orang asli communities,” he said.

Ahmad Faizal paid a surprise visit to Pos Kemar last August after receiving complaints about logging activities.

He had spent a night there and had a heart-to heart talk with them and he had also announced to develop the Perak Elephant Sanctuary to resolve issues of wild elephants encroaching into settlements.

The 40ha sanctuary is to be developed at the Perak-Kelantan border, located along the Gerik-Jeli road.

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