KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy health minister Lukanisman Awang Sauni is concerned that the increase in the cost of living may contribute to stunted growth among children.
He said that parents may decide to provide their kids with inexpensive food that may not be healthy.
“I am concerned about the rising cost of living, such as the price of rice and nutritious essential goods, as this could lead parents to obtain cheaper food (for their children).
“Pregnant women too, may not be getting the right nutrition to ensure that their child is born healthy,” Lukanisman said during the Minister’s Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat.
He said in the last five years, the ministry recorded 29.7% of children in preschools as having issues with stunted growth.
Lukanisman encouraged parents to allocate some time to prepare nutritious meals for their schoolgoing children.
Giving the example of a Chinese school in Muar, he said the parents there came up with an initiative to prepare the same nutritious meals for all students and teachers, with community assistance.
“I see this method as the best option, especially if we rely solely on initiatives like the government’s Supplementary Food Programme in schools, as sometimes the providers (of these meals for students) only offer sausage with rice.
“Perhaps parents can spare more time to cook nutritious meals. This will allow children to be more interested in home-cooked and healthy food,” Lukanisman said.
In 2018, Unicef revealed that one in five Malaysian children in working-class neighbourhoods, such as low-cost flats, had stunted growth, while one in 10 was underweight.
It also found that children in Malaysia were worse off than some of its nine Asean neighbours.