KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — The Selangor state government will be allocating RM1 million under the state’s 2022 budget on a nutrition programme that will benefit 700 children over a period of 10 months.
Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari, in presenting Selangor’s Budget 2022 last Friday, said the nutrition programme takes into consideration findings by the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2016 which found that one in five children in Malaysia aged under five years suffers from stunting.
Malaysia suffers a triple burden of malnutrition: obesity, anaemia, and stunting.
According to a report by the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia and the Jeffrey Sachs Centre on Sustainable Development in 2019, about 30 per cent of children below five in the poorest households in Malaysia that earn below RM1,000 monthly are stunted.
But stunting prevalence is also high at about 17 per cent in families with a household income of above RM5,000 a month, compared to the 7 per cent rate in other upper middle-income countries.
Former education minister and Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malik previously urged the government to extend the free school breakfast programme to all primary school students beyond the hardcore poor.
He said a “non-discriminatory” free breakfast programme in public primary schools can have a positive spillover effect as many Malaysians, irrespective of their socio-economic status, continue to struggle with the pandemic’s far-reaching consequences.
However, the federal Education Ministry said in a November 15 parliament reply to Maszlee that it would not reintroduce the free school breakfast programme that he had initiated in 2019 as minister, as the current government deemed present food programmes for primary school students to be sufficient.
Meanwhile, Amirudin also announced an allocation of RM200,000 for eye screening in school children in Selangor after the implementation of one year of virtual learning.
“The state government views children’s eye health seriously as they need them to be extra focused for online learning compared to physical classes. There are those who have suffered from extreme eye fatigue, and even more so, the application for glasses at state assemblypersons’ offices has been increasing,” he said.