The Fundamental Causes of Malnutrition in Bangladesh
The high level of malnutrition in Bangladesh is instigated by a number of concerns. As the population of the country continues to increase, the number of malnourished people also rises simultaneously- unless the problems are being properly addressed.
Poverty and inequality are rudimentary factors of malnutrition in Bangladesh. Here, the gap between the poorest and the richest groups in relation to malnutrition is 28%. A change has to be brought in this scenario in order for Bangladesh to really address its malnutrition burden. Nutrition is related to poverty, which is widespread and affects the bottom and middle wealth quintiles. The capacity to afford a nutritious diet is restricted to the better-off sections of Bangladeshi society.
The underlying grounds of malnutrition in Bangladesh manifest at household and community levels across two pathways-
(i) Household food security: access to food, land and water.
In 2011, 69% of Bangladeshi households experienced some form of food insecurity. Bangladesh is heavily populated, resulting into a limited supply of land and resources. The intensity of the seasons proliferates susceptibility to limited food access for the poorest. Groundbreaking methodologies for resourcing poor areas are needed to allow them to leverage the natural and human resources available to them, increase access to food and achieve more sustainable livelihoods.
(ii) Caring practices for women and children
Despite progress since 1971 – exemplified by effective family planning and a radical drop in fertility rates – women in Bangladesh continues have a lower social status than men. This is profoundly rooted in cultures and traditions that place greater value on male and female as social and economic burdens. Women’s status remains low from one generation to the next because of a preference for sons- because daughters have less access to food, health services and education. Women are a vital part of the solution of improving nutrition in Bangladesh, and therefore more attention must be given to empowering women.
Around 20% of babies in Bangladesh are born stunted. Girls who marry young typically give birth at younger ages. Giving birth at a young age enhances the danger of intra-uterine growth retardation, leading to stunting at birth. Child marriage leads to girls dropping out of education and confines their social progress. It preserves an unequal society, enhancing female susceptibility. Child marriage, early pregnancy and stunting at birth are critical points for malnutrition across the lifecycle.
An ingenious social protection system has the potential to positively mark all of the concerns delineated and improve nutrition in Bangladesh. It is a sustainable, cost-effective nutrition-sensitive approach. Every US dollar invested in programs to reduce stunting in Bangladesh generates US$17.9–18.4 in economic returns.