ABOUT 27% children in Zimbabwe suffer stunted growth, with 9% severely stunted owing to poor nutrition, a 2015 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) report has revealed.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The survey, conducted by the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (ZimStat) between July and December last year, noted that Matabeleland South province recorded a 31% prevalence of stunted growth, with rural boys being the most affected.
“By province, stunting ranges from 19% in Bulawayo to 31% in Matabeleland South. Children of mothers with more than a secondary education are less likely to be stunted (9%) compared with children, whose mothers have no education (45%),” the report said.
Stunting can start when the child is still in the mother’s womb due to the parent’s poor nutrition during pregnancy.
The ZHDS survey said stunting placed children at risk of morbidity, mortality and impaired mental development.
“Over one-quarter (27%) of Zimbabwean children are stunted, while 9% are severely stunted. Analysis of stunting by age group shows that stunting is highest (39%) in children aged two to three years old and the lowest (13%) in children between six and eight months,” the report said.
“Stunting levels are higher among boys (30%) than girls (24%), and higher among rural children (29%) than urban children (22%). Stunting decreases with increasing wealth from 33% in the lowest wealth quintile to 17% in the highest. Three percent of Zimbabwean children are wasted and 1% are severely wasted. Wasting levels are highest for children between nine and 11 months old (9%).”
The report noted that stunting has decreased from 32% in 2010-11 to 27% last year and the proportion of underweight children has decreased from 10% in 2010-11 to 8% in 2015.