Keeping children healthy helps protect their future said doctors speaking at a World Children’s Day (WCD) awareness programme at the Aga Khan University. WCD is celebrated every year to initiate action that can benefit and promote children’s welfare.
Nutrition is the basic need of a growing child and a need that starts from the womb stated Dr Shakeel Ahmed, Consultant Paediatrician and Rheumatologist, Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH). Early childhood is also the most important period for a child’s development, as this is when the brain develops rapidly. However, in Pakistan, more than 40 per cent of children under five years of age are malnourished and underweight, which affects both their health and future as adults.
“One of the dilemmas of malnutrition in our children is a lack of awareness among parents and caregivers about healthy foods and balanced diets. The dietary needs of children change with age and parents should be aware of their child’s nutritional needs at every stage of his/her growing years,” added Dr Shakeel.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Shabina Ariff, Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, AKUH said that parents are responsible for their young children’s health. As caregivers, they need to be aware of the importance of vaccinations and following a regular vaccination schedule. Equally they should know about good hygiene practices and a healthy diet rich in micro and macro-nutrients, including clean drinking water.
Children in Pakistan face many challenges with “nearly 1 in every 10 children born not surviving their fifth birthday,” said Dr Ariff. Pneumonia, diarrhoea and vaccine-preventable diseases - meningitis, malaria and other bacterial and viral infections – are the main reason for the high under-five mortality rates.
Apart from good nutrition, mental health is also the back bone of a healthy society, as most mental health issues in adult life have their roots in a person’s childhood, said Dr Arshalooz Rehman, Consultant Paediatrician and Nephrologist, AKUH, while talking about normal behaviour patterns. She also brought to light that teenage behavioural problems are a result of a troubled childhood and gave a brief insight into the prevention of post-traumatic stress disorder in children.
Also, speaking at the event Ms Fahmida Mehdi, Clinical Nurse Specialist, AKUH highlighted early childhood development strategies and how parents can play effective role in the growth and development of their child in the first few years of their life.
Fabeha Pervez, Media Executive, Department of Public Affairs, Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, Karachi, on +92 21 3486 2925 or firstname.lastname@example.org