6.6  Consequences of malnutrition for communities

The enormous consequences of malnutrition are often not appreciated because they may be hidden. Often there are no obvious signs, and the victims themselves are silent and not aware of the problem. Yet, data available (DHS 2005) now indicates that, in Ethiopia, malnutrition starts very early in life for large numbers of children who become progressively more malnourished during the first two years of life. By 24 months, considerable damage to the developing child has been done and satisfactory recovery becomes less likely.

Well-nourished women are likely to be fit and healthy and able to look after their family well. The outcomes of pregnancy and lactation are improved when the woman is healthy herself. As you read in an earlier study session in this Module, the nutritional needs of a pregnant and a lactating woman are greater than at other times in her life. During pregnancy, the food the mother eats also helps to meet the nutritional needs of the unborn baby. During lactation, the food the mother eats helps in production of breastmilk.

Just as malnutrition has many causes, its effects are also multidimensional in nature.

6.5.4  Social factors

6.6.1  Increased risk of disease and death