Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Childhood wasting remains a concern for Kingdom

Childhood wasting remains a concern for Kingdom

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
CARD chairman Yim Chhay Ly at a workshop on child wasting. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Childhood wasting remains a concern for Kingdom

Individual and societal behavioural changes have had an impact on food security and nutrition situation that requires additional attention to combating malnutrition in all its forms, as they pose threats to public health and Cambodia’s economic growth.

Yim Chhay Ly, chairman of the Council for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), spoke on the topic during the opening session of the workshop on “Working together to fill the shortcomings of the Global Action Plan and respond to the problem of child wasting”, held in Phnom Penh on October 18.

He said food security and nutrition have played an important role in contributing to the development of human resources, increasing work efficiency, promoting economic growth and social progress.

According to Chhay Ly, urban development, migration, climate change, demographic trend and socio-economic growth have significantly changed Cambodians’ lifestyles.

“These individual and societal behaviour changes have impacted the food security and nutrition situation, which requires more attention to combating malnutrition in all its forms. This problem has people facing new challenges that pose threats to their health and also threatens our potential economic growth,” he said.

If there is no attention paid to solving challenges related to health, food security and nutrition, the benefits of economic development will decrease via unseen losses from malnutrition and the costs of care and treatment for non-communicable disease like diabetes, strokes and heart disease, he added.

To achieve real progress on the promotion of food security and nutrition systematically, he said Prime Minister Hun Sen has mapped out action plans to achieve this vision for the food system by 2030, which could also be facilitated through active participation in international cooperation frameworks, both regional and global.

CARD secretary-general Sok Silo said that in May last year, Cambodia successfully prepared a roadmap on a global action plan to reduce the number of children afflicted by wasting under their lead as coordinator.

He added that the roadmap identifies 13 provinces as having the highest demographic priorities for reducing child wasting: Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri, Preah Vihear, Siem Reap, Oddar Meanchey, Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, Kampong Thom and Takeo.

Prak Sophorn Neary, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Health, said that since 2000, Cambodia has made significant progress in improving access to quality primary healthcare and healthcare delivery by medical experts on promoting good nutrition and healthy diet.

Citing the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey (CDHS) 2021, she said the stunting rate for children under the age of 5 had reduced from 32 per cent in 2012 to 22 per cent in 2021. However, concerns remained that the rate of wasting has not been changing and has remained at 10 per cent for many years.

Some provinces have a stunting rate of around 30 per cent, indicating that it is beyond the normal parameters for the Kingdom and has reached an urgent level, she said.

“Since 2018, the government has increased the national budget to buy food to feed children with severe malnutrition, because it is estimated that a total of 60,000 children with severe malnutrition are treated each year but only about 10 per cent of children with wasting received treatment,” she added.

Sophorn Neary also said the ministry and relevant organisations need to strengthen their searches for children with mild wasting by monitoring their growth, doctor’s referrals and medical treatments – an effort that will be expanded to the provinces.

According to a press release from UNICEF in Cambodia, children who suffer from wasting – also known as acute malnutrition – are 11 times more likely to die than well-nourished children, and those who survive often experience lifelong consequences.

The government’s goal is to halve child wasting by 2025, the press release states. Despite progress in reducing stunting since 2014, child wasting has not improved and remains at 10 per cent, according to the preliminary results of the 2021 CDHS.

UNICEF Cambodia acting representative Anirban Chatterjee said the right to health and development is every child’s most fundamental right. Challenges in recent years from the pandemic to the global food system disruptions have threatened this right and that this in turn threatens children’s health, their ability to learn and their future prospects.

“That is why today we have redoubled our efforts to prevent wasting by increasing investment, scaling up multi-sector programmes targeting children and women and strengthening social protection measures to promote and protect child nutrition,” said Chatterjee.


  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Newest horror film showcases unique Khmer culture, identity

    At first glance, the trailer to new horror sensation The Ritual: Black Nun looks like a western-produced feature film. As the story reveals itself to the viewers, it becomes clearer that this is a Khmer film, with a strong Cambodian identity and close links to

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to

  • Angkor Beer strengthens national pride with golden new look and fresher taste

    Angkor Beer – the "Gold of Angkor" – has a new look, one that is more stylish and carries a premium appeal, as well as a fresher taste and smoother flavour, making it the perfect choice for any gathering. Angkor Beer recently launched its new design, one

  • Water supply authority assures public shortages over early ‘24

    The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) asked for understanding from Phnom Penh residents in some communes where water pressure is weak. They assured residents that all supply issues will be resolved by early 2024, but have suggested that residents use water sparingly in the meantime.

  • Khmer ballet documentary debuts April 1

    A new documentary, The Perfect Motion, or Tep Hattha in Khmer, will premiere to the public on April 1. The documentary film follows two intertwined storylines: the creation of a show called Metamorphosis by the late Princess Norodom Buppha Devi (her very last production) and the