Stunning revelations: Are children going hungry in rich Malaysia?
A study by the UN children’s programme says it is the case.
The study shows youths living in US$30-a-month public housing units suffer more from stunting.
it says those in Ghana are less impacted, however.
Malaysia’s GDP is six times higher than Ghana’s.
South China Morning Post says public housing in Malaysia is cheaper than a night out in one of Kuala Lumpur’s swanky bars,
It says a single subsidised unit’s monthly rent is a mere US$30.
The type of housing is for families with less than 3,000 ringgit (US$766) monthly income.
As many as 80,000 households have settled into these high-rise housing estates.
However, the Unicef study released last week revealed dire conditions of living in these households.
These flats it says are taking a direct toll on the children who live, play, and learn in these houses.
The study shows that the children in these low-cost flats face high rates of malnutrition and poverty.
“With 99.7 percent living in relative poverty and seven percent in absolute poverty,” it says.
Not withstanding the fact that the national poverty rate is less than one per cent.
The study surveyed 16 low-cost housing projects in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
Some 966 heads of household, which are home to 2,142 children, were interviewed.
Here are some pointers from the study:
It found that 22 percent of children below the age of five are stunted.
While 15 percent are underweight, 20 percent face acute malnutrition and 23 percent are overweight or obese.
Stunting, or impaired growth stemming from poor nutrition, inadequate psychosocial stimulation.
It can dramatically affect a child’s cognitive abilities in later life.
A chief economist at the DM Analytics told SCMP it is a national crisis.
The ‘stunting’ figure is almost double the average in Kuala Lumpur.
“The global rate of stunting is on the decline, but Malaysia’s is on the rise – from 17 percent in 2006 to what it is now.”
“Stunting is irreversible, and it’s not just about being short.
“We are talking about cognitive impairment, difficulties in later life,” said Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid.
DM Analytics is the firm that carried out the study.