RM800mil fund can help 5.6 million malnourished kids

KUALA LUMPUR: There are at least 5.6 million children facing double burden malnutrition (childhood obesity and stunting). Increasing food allocation to RM800mil for school children is expected to at least solve part of this problem.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic) pointed out that 500,000 pre-school, primary and secondary school children are identified as malnourised each year.

“The allocation for food at primary and secondary schools would now involve about RM800mil.

“In this matter, we also need to consider the preparation of food as early as at the pre-school level,” he told a press conference after chairing the National Social Council Meeting in Parliament yesterday.

Ahmad Zahid also revealed the meeting discussed approaches taken to address the issue which will be coordinated by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.

“We believe that the physical formation of children depends on the nutrition given as well as their early education.

“We have discussed in detail regarding the issue of height, but also stunting, weight, as well as obesity of the next Malaysian generation,” he added.

Ahmad Zahid also noted that a memorandum will be submitted to the Cabinet soon to coordinate efforts to address the issue as it involves various ministries and agencies for their implementation.

On a separate issue, he revealed there were some 1,081 unregistered childcare centres and 574 daycare centres across the country, as of 2022.

“We also discuss the issue of childcare and day care centres as there are some issues with the registration, curriculum, syllabus and the premise standards,” he said.

Among the proposals that had been agreed upon during the meeting include the standardisation of work processes and conditions between local authorities on curriculum, syllabus and safety standards, coordination of certificate and licenses and the creation of more one stop centres at the district level to resolve issues related to day care centres.

However, Ahmad Zahid said the coordination works must be done in line with the respective local authorities and state rules.

On the issue of homelessness, he said a comprehensive approach will be taken including enforcement, to allow them to have a second chance to transform their lives.

“This is to ensure that in terms of accommodation, job opportunities and also mental health faced by the homeless can be solved,” he said.

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