CHILD MALNUTRITION AND MORTALITY IN SWAZILAND: SITUATION ANALYSIS OF THE IMMEDIATE, UNDERLYING AND BASIC CAUSES|
Masuku-Maseko, SKS & Owaga, EE
Malnutrition is a major confounding factor for child morbidity and mortality in developing countries. In Swaziland, about 31% of the under-five children are stunted in growth, where-as 1% and 6% are wasted and underweight, respectively. Hhohho region has the highest prevalence of underweight children (8.2%) relative to other regions such as Shiselweni (7.3%), Lubombo (6.7%) and Manzini (6.4%). The prevalence of infant and under-five children mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) are 85 and 102 deaths, respectively. Lubombo region has the highest cases of under-five mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) of 115 when compared to rates in other regions, namely; Manzini (112), Shiselweni (100) and Hhohho (96). Despite the several child healthcare programmes, the problem of high child malnutrition places a significant hindrance towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 4 on reduction of child mortality. Potential determinants of childhood malnutrition and mortality in Swaziland can be categorized into three levels, namely: (a) immediate causes (inadequate dietary intake of protein, energy and micronutrients; diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases and HIV/AIDS, (b) underlying causes (inadequate access to food due to poverty and decline in food production; inadequate care of children and women, insufficient health services and unhealthy environment), and (c) basic causes (inadequate mother's education and nutrition knowledge, insufficient human resources in child health care; inadequate policies on child nutrition and health care; inequitable distribution of household and national socioeconomic resources). This paper presents an in-depth analysis of the causal factors of childhood malnutrition and mortality in Swaziland, and further explores opportunities that could be adopted to address the malnutrition and mortality problem. It also aims to reinforce that in order to ensure effectiveness and sustainability of intervention programmes, there is need for multi-dimensional strategies and collaboration between all the stakeholders concerned with child nutrition, health and socio-economic development. However, the interventions must recognize the existing socio-economic differentials between the rural and urban areas, and the administrative regions.
child, malnutrition, mortality, causes, Swaziland