The report throws light on the recent demographic situation of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where millions of people are suffering from malnutrition. It also tries to explain the reasons that have led to this situation. It stresses on the urgency of the situation, and draws attention toward the need of immediate assistance. A majority of the Congolese people, especially children and women are undernourished; however, political unrest within the country is creating resistance to improve their condition. Besides explaining the reasons this report also suggests some ways to follow for the betterment of these people. In the recent years the country is going through a phase of economic development, however, this economic growth has contributed very little towards the development of the undernourished Congolese. Especially the condition of the children below the age group of five needs special care. The benevolent gesture of the International Organization is welcomed; but the government should also come forward for its own people.
Table of Contents
Health issues influence the individual as well as the community. Specific health issues in certain region have become a trend as this depends on certain factor. This study will evaluate the health issues related to malnutrition in Congo. This is relevant that malnutrition of a country is depended on several internal factors of the country which is variable with the region. This study will illuminate the impact of malnutrition on the indigenous people of Congo. This will include a brief discussion on the social and other factors which are influencing such issue.
In general, the Democratic Republic of Congo suffers for its inability to sustain its growing population. Congo has been going through the continuous series of wars, which hampers its economic stability. The civil wars that had occurred in between 1998 to 2003 have killed almost 5.4 million people, bringing down the essential infrastructures such as schools, hospitals, stores to ashes. Hence at the aftermath of these wars, people have been struggling to make ends meet. According to Moise et al. (2017, p.1), one of the massive and disastrous aftermaths had been poverty which consequently leads to the issue of malnutrition, especially among women and children. As much as 70% of the total population are unable to feed themselves with a basic diet. Especially 60% to 70% people of the conflicted-areas are going through chronic malnutrition (Kuwa et al. 2016, p.45).
At present, almost 38% of the country's population lives under poverty level, which is alarming. Congo ranks higher as one of the poorest countries in world. These people can barely spend $2 per day for their daily lifestyle. So it is obvious that they would be harassed by the menace of malnutrition (Akilimali et al. 2016, p.2).
Poor Agricultural Sector
In Ubangi, Congo, the situation is even worse. The local farmers out there are still terrified to cultivate their lands. They are afraid they would be unable to sell their produce, because of the presence of the rebel armed force, which always creates an atmosphere of terror. This leads to the unavailability of foods and other nutrition materials in the local markets to access. Even the international aid agencies are unable to extend their help as the situation is not stable. Almost 64% people of agricultural sector suffer from lack of nutritious foods (Kismul, 2015, p.23).
Shorter Life Expectancy
As per Matondo et al. (2016, p.457), another cruel reality is the life-expectancy of the Congo-adults, which is as low as 47 years. A recent report also suggests that 20% of the Congo children die before attaining the age of 5. As these parents have no money at all to buy essential food items, they cannot help watching their children going thinner day by day. The meagre amount of nutritious foods such as bins and other vegetables, that are produced here, are being shipped to Kinshasa's big market by the businessmen (Mihanda and Robert, 2017, p.82).
Threats of Sudden Epidemics
And there is also the threat of infectious diseases like Malaria, Dengue fever, and HIV/AIDS. In 2011, reportedly 4.5 million people suffered from Malaria only.
Poor Health-Care Support
The absence of basic health-care facilities makes it difficult to control the outbreaks of these diseases and they take the shape of epidemics in no time. As the country is still coping with the war disasters, the system of providing nutrition-supplements to the pregnant women and children is severely hampered (Suenaga and Arase, 2017, p.1012).
According to Kuwa et al. (2016, p.56), the chronic problem of the refugees makes it hard to address the problem of food security. Most these refugees do not have any permanent livelihood to support their dependents. The huge number of these jobless, displaced people adds to the total number of malnutrition people. As reported by the UN, the violence and insecurity have compelled nearly 90,000 people to be displaced from their homes. Even the recent economic growth of Congo has not been able to better their situation. In the month of December 2015, UNICEF reported that at least 4 million children in the Kasai region of Congo are on the verge of dying and they need immediate assistance. The violence and conflicts of Kasai were blamed for this dreadful situation (Moise et al. 2017, p.1).
The Inadequate Amount of Aids
It has been already mentioned that the international aid agencies find it difficult to extend help in those conflicted areas of Congo. Still, they try to reach there as much as possible. In 2017 it was reported that the aid provided by World Food Programme (WFP) was only 1% of the aggregate need (Akilimali et al. 2016, p.2).
Lack of Political Goodwill
According to Kismul (2015, p.445), the rebel militia and the incumbent government of Congo are engaged in violent conflicts from 2016. And the poor people of DRC are ruthlessly suffering in between these two forces. Nothing can go right in such conflicting situation. As a result, public health is being neglected by the government. There is international pressure on the president to step down.
Misuse of Public Wealth by the Government
In order to remain in power, the government is funding the civil wars with public money, against the militia. This is happening at the same time when millions of Congolese people dying out of starvation. Congo is naturally endowed with huge reserves of minerals, but most of its beneficiaries are the top Congolese officials. The Democratic Republic of Congo presents a paradox as to why a country so rich in minerals happens to be amongst the extremely undernourished countries. But this also suggests that there’s a way out (Matondo et al. 2016, p.457
Malnutrition literally is not intact of enough nutritious food. Over and under nutrition both can cause malnutrition. In this state a human body cannot perform their normal responsibilities such as physical activity, body growth, pregnancy, lactation, healing from any existing disease. In developing countries 54% child died because of malnutrition.
Impact of malnutrition mostly affects pregnant, lactating women; and children age less than three years. As stated by Harttgen et al. (2013), the main reasons for malnutrition mainly are insufficient food consuming, continuous infectious disease; some other reason may be there. Poverty, gender discrimination, women violence are cause of malnutrition among the women and children mostly. Lack of vitamins and minerals during the pregnancy period increase the risk of poor pregnancy and can make low weight or premature babies who can suffer from the malnutrition or any other critical disease in their future.
Mainly poverty is the reason behind this illness and it makes situation worse. When malnourished children start their life some mental issues are already there. In future they can’t cope up with the educational system and it becomes threat to the nation. Hence, they do not get to know about healthy diet routines, and women failed to know about the importance of breastfeeding, and child care etc. For this reason women get more affected in rather than the men. As commented by Grellety et al. (2017), Africa’s food insecurity growing worse, they have lost huge number of life since past. In sub-saharan region of Africa 40% of children under 5 suffers from malnutrition and lose their growth and immunity and it affect their future health. As suggested by Ulimwengu et al. (2012), in part of Africa most women are practicing household there after they have to depend on another person for their food. For lack of education they fail to intact nutritious food and suffer from malnutrition.
In congo less than 90% of children suffers from chronic malnutrition and 43% of them under five. One out of twenty one children suffers from this disease. 6 regions among 26 have commonly exceeding 50%, which are an emergency rate and another 14 regions having 40% of malnourished children.
According to DRC in last 15 years, frequency has changed in last three researches. In 2001 38% children fewer than 7 was malnourished, where as in 2007 it was 47% and in 2013-14 somehow it decreased, the reports was 43%. 7.9% of human aged 6 to 59 months suffer from acute malnutrition; the frequency of global acute malnutrition was 16% in 2001 and 8% in 2013-14.
160,000 children under five die each year effect of malnutrition.
Lack of nutritious value adds many factors such as illness, disease and biological reasons in child. As suggested by Irshad et al. (2014), reason of illness in child can be physical, psychological, political or social, which affects his life. Children medical, social and psychological value can change his way of life and can help him to fight malnutrition in many way.
In developing and underdeveloped country there are many reasons of child death, as follows social, economical, medical, environmental factors. It clears how determinants the situation is.
Malnutrition effects individual socially and economically. According to Temba et al. (2016), a malnourished children’s slower growth, low immunity system, low brain development create pressure during school days to get good grades, even sometimes they leave school in early days. For this disease children tends have lower self esteem and confidence. For that they cannot participate in social activities. According to Black et al. (2013), as malnutrition effects immunity system of body it increases the chances of having disease or disability. So forth they cannot work in productivity works as agricultural, service industry and fail to grow the economical condition. Political issues are also their as government does not give enough importance to feed their citizens thus still malnutrition is affecting their natives.
Nutrition is as important as oxygen in human body. But lack of education in natives does not help them to know the importance of nutrition, for that reason many of them suffers from malnutrition.
Malnutrition can affect muscle and bones of human body, it can make hard for to daily task. As commented Bain et al. (2013), it may also reason of neck, back and shoulder pain. These pains can make the human fall to death.
Lack intact of nutritious food can decrease white blood cell count, and thus it cannot fight with any critical illness like recovering from cancer. Not enough intact of nutrition also can damage organs as follows; brain, eye, kidney, heart, liver.
The majority of population of Congo is going through acute food-crisis and malnutrition, which needs to be appeased right now. WHO, AFP, UNICEF are some of the prominent organizations that are trying to ameliorate the starving condition out there. UNICEF and WHO regularly run vaccination programme throughout the country. Besides these humanitarian aids, what needs to be addressed is the issue of Income-Inequality among the rich and the poor. Instead of providing direct help, strengthening the workforce with new livelihood skills would serve better purpose to pull millions of people out of the undernourished situation.
These would take time. However, in the meantime, the administration should take some initiatives like immunization programme, basic health care facilities, in line with the policies of a welfare nation. Nonetheless, the Government should mutually resolve the political issues with the rebel-group for the sake of its own people. The rehabilitation of the undernourished people is only possible under a peaceful and stable political ambiance.
The country also receives monetary assistance from several organizations. A proper use of that wealth would ensure a better and healthy future of Congo's people, especially its children and women.
Malnutrition has influenced the growth of the individual as well as the community. This study has evaluated the impact of malnutrition on the indigenous people of Congo. This presents the prime influential factors that influence such health issues. Apart from that, this study also exhibited the severity of malnutrition in the context of African society as well as in case of Congo. This has presented the deadly impacts of malnutrition along with the restriction it posed on the development of the community. Its severity has also described the bitter truth of child death in Congo.
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