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Ethiopia’s Current Health Policy Significantly Improves Childhood Malnutrition in Recent Decades
A recent research suggests that childhood malnutrition in Gamo Gofa zone has downward trend in the proportion of children underweight and malnutrition over the past two decades.
By Tilahun Ferede Asena
Sep. 25, 2015

For this report, indicators of the nutritional status of children were calculated using new growth standards published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2006. The growth standards measures were collected from both rural and urban sampled surveys conducted in Gamo Gofa zones of Dita, Boreda, Dembi Gofa and Mirab Abaya Woredas from December 1 to January 5, 2013.

The principal author Tilahun Ferede Asena who conducted the research under the grant obtained from Arba Minch University Research Directorate Office collected data from 12 kebeles and considered 564 children under age five (6-59 months) for the analysis. The findings of their study, whose sample were collected both in rural and urban in those kebeles describe how children should grow under optimal conditions. Interviewing teams obtained measurements of height and weight for all children born in the five years preceding the sample survey and listed in the Questionnaire.

“About 27 percent of children under age five are malnourished and 15 percent of children are severely still malnourished. This result has shown a significant decrease when compared with the results of previous national survey results. In general, the prevalence of malnutrition decreases as the age of a child increases, with the highest prevalence of chronic malnutrition found in children age between 6-15 months and lowest in children under thirty six months, “ Tilahun Said. “The results revealed that as many as 75% of all cases of child undernutrition and its related pathologies go untreated. It is also observed that about 35% of the health costs associated with undernutrition occur before the child turns 1 year-old”.

Figure 1: Posterior means of the non-linear effects in underweight for child’s age in month Gamo Gofa Zone in 2013

The mother’s nutritional status, as measured by her body mass index (BMI), also has an inverse relationship with her child’s level of malnutrition. For example, children of thin mothers (BMI <18.5) are more likely to be malnutrition than the children of overweight/obese (BMI ≥25) mothers. Children in rural areas are one and a half times more likely to be malnourished than those in urban areas. Regional variation in the prevalence of malnutrition in children is substantial. The mother’s level of education generally has an inverse relationship with malnutrition. For example, children of mothers with more than secondary education are the least likely to be malnourished, while children whose mothers have no education are the most likely to be malnourished. A similar inverse relationship is observed between the household wealth index and the malnutrition of children; that is, a higher proportion of children in the lowest household economic level are malnourished than of children in the highest household economic level.

Additional co-authors were Derbachew Asfaw Teni, Department of Statistics, Arba Minch University, Arba Minch, Ethiopia. The research was supported by grants found from Arba Minch University Research Directorate Office, College of Natural Sciences Research coordination Offices and Department of Statistics, Arba Minch University, Arba Minch, Ethiopia.

A paper about the study appeared recently in American Journal of Theoretical and Applied Statistics ( doi: 10.11648/j.ajtas.20150404.17 ISSN: 2326-8999 (Print); ISSN: 2326-9006 (Online).

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