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‘Rate of child malnutrition still at serious level in North Korea’

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Published : 2013-06-23 20:46
Updated : 2013-06-23 20:46

The rate of malnutrition among North Korean children still remains at a serious level, although it has improved from the level seen in the late 1990’s, a local health expert said Friday.

The rate of North Korean infants and toddlers under age 5 with chronic malnutrition disorder came to 27.9 percent as of late 2012, jumping sharply from 62.3 percent recorded for 1998, said Lee Soo-kyung, a food and nutrition professor at Inha University, at a local forum, referring to reports filed last year by the World Health Organization and the World Food Program. 
North Korean nurses say goodbye to representatives from foreign humanitarian agencies after a U.N. and North Korean government program to give vitamin supplements and deworming pills to children at a nursery school in Pyongyang, North Korea on Child Health Day. (AP-Yonhap News)

The rate of North Korean infants and toddlers with acute nutrition disorder also fell to 4 percent last year from 15.6 percent in 1998 thanks mainly to children assistance programs by food-related international organizations, the professor said.

Lee said the current figures indicate the nutrition conditions for North Korean children are still at a serious level.

“Recent nutrition assistance programs (by international organizations) helped improve the children’s nutrition conditions, but they are feared to worsen again in the future as (the organizations) are scaling back their programs due to budget issues,” Lee said, adding the country needs more assistance.

Another researcher said the North is expected to suffer another food shortage this year despite the country’s improving grain production.

The communist country is expected to see its grain production increase by 10 percent on-year to a total of 4.92 million tons this year, Kim Young-hoon, a researcher at the Korea Rural Economic Institute, said, adding the country may need a total of 5.42 million tons of grain to feed its people this year. (Yonhap News)

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