STUNTED Malaysian children is a real problem that Putrajaya must admit rather than ignore, said an economist whose recent survey had uncovered a high number of malnourished children in low-cost housing projects..
DM Analytics managing director and chief economist Muhammed Abdul Khalid said Putrajaya needed to acknowledge the problem if it was to be resolved.
“We have a problem with the poor. If we are not going to acknowledge it, we are not going to solve it,” he said at a forum organised by Buku Jalanan today.
He said it was a shame that even the most highly placed leaders were turning a blind eye on the growing epidemic.
“Those in power look the other way. We are not acknowledging it, even at the highest level.”
He also took the Transformasi Nasional (TN50) programme to task for not addressing the issue of poverty among urban kids.
“On the TN50 canvas, not even a word was said. There is no mention of it in the TN50 report.”
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Dr Medaline Berma called for affirmative action targeting those living in rural and poverty-stricken areas.
“There are times we need affirmative action. Not because they are Malays but because firm action is needed to improve things.”
Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid recently downplayed the findings of the surveycommission by Unicef, saying the government provided supplementary food programmes (RMT) in all schools in rural and urban areas.
The Unicef report, Children Without: A study of urban child poverty and deprivation in low-cost flats in Kuala Lumpur, published on February 26, states that children living in low-cost flats are deprived in terms of nutrition, education, safety, and healthy living conditions.
The study took measure of government programmes for the urban poor.
It found Kelantan to have the highest number of children under 5 with stunted growth at 34%, followed by Terengganu and Pahang (26% each) and Putrajaya, Perak, Sabah & Labuan (24% each).
Stunted growth in children in Sarawak was 23%, followed by Perlis (21%), Penang (20%), Negri Sembilan (19%), Kedah (18%), Malacca (14%), Johor (12%) and Kuala Lumpur (11%).
The report, which compared countries with similar GDP per capita, said in terms of children with stunted growth, Malaysia was worse than Ghana, despite its GDP per capita being six times higher, at 21%. – March 26, 2018.