2 Jul 2014

Malnutrition marker of Pacific poverty

3:46 pm on 2 July 2014

A New Zealand paediatrician says severe malnutrition is a marker of things not being right in the Pacific region and some countries have seen an increase in the problem.

Dr Teuila Percival says Samoa keeps some of the best records on the problem in the region and has seen an increase in the number of children admitted to hospital for the treatment of malnutrition in the past year.

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Photo: RNZ

She says widespread poverty is leading to severe malnutrition, childhood deaths and stunted growth in children.

"Children who are stunted have survived long enough to actually grow and be measured. But underneath that you'll have a number of children who die in hospital in the first year of life with malnutrition and diahorrea. It's not surprising where's there's widespread poverty and where women and children are less important in the scheme of things."

Middlemore Hospital paediatrician Dr Teuila Percival.