Review of the status of malnutrition and trends in Ethiopia
AbstractBackground: The problem of malnutrition in Ethiopia is on the increase due to low agricultural production, low and inadequate food consumption and high disease burden.
Objective: To synethisize available information on nutritional assessment in Ethiopia
Methods: Trends in nutritional status assessed from three National Nutrition Surveys conducted in 1983, 1992 and 1998 by the Central Statistical Authority (CSA) and other pocket surveys on Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) and Micronutrient deficiencies.
Results: For the nation as a whole no major progress has been made in reducing the prevalence of child malnutrition over the last 17 years. The mean prevalence of stunting (low height for age) for all the regions increased from 59.8% in 1983 to 64% in 1992. The very recent survey of 1998 showed a decline in the level stunting i.e. 52% compared to the previous years. The prevalence of underweight children among 6-59 months olds fell from 37.3% in 1983 to 46.9% in 1992 and to 42% in 1998. Prevalence of wasting for all the regions combined had also increased. Breast-feeding and weaning practices revealed that the problem of early stunting in Ethiopia is mainly due to delayed introduction of complementary foods in the first year of life. Pocket studies on the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies indicate that iron deficiency anemia, Iodine Deficiency Disorders and vitamin A deficiency are of major problems of public health significance.
Conclusion: To reduce malnutrition rapidly requires focused and systematic action in the areas of health, food security, child and maternal care. A co-ordinated effort of all sectors will be needed to overcome the problem. Due to this lack of co-ordination both in addressing the problem and addressing the basic and underlying causes, malnutrition is on the increase in this country.
(Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 2001, 15(2): 55-74)