The following are the key findings of The Gambia Demographic andNUTRITION OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN
Health Survey 2013:
• Twenty-five percent of children under age 5 in The Gambia are
stunted (short for their age), 12 percent are wasted (thin for their
height), and 16 percent are underweight (thin for their age). Only 3 percent of children are overweight (heavy for their height).
• Almost all (99 percent) last-born children under age 2 were
breastfed at some point in their life. Forty-seven percent of children
under age 6 months are exclusively breastfed, and 54 percent of
children age 6-8 months are breastfeeding and consuming complementary
• Only 8 percent of children age 6-23 months are fed in accordance
with the three core infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices.
• Sixty-nine percent of children age 6-59 months received vitamin A
supplements in the past six months, 17 percent received iron
supplements in the past seven days, 34 percent received deworming
medication in the past six months, and 76 percent live in households
with iodised salt.
• Overall, 61 percent of women have a body mass index (BMI) in the
normal range. Almost one in four women are overweight or obese.
• Among women age 15-49 with a child born in the past five years, 85
percent received a vitamin A dose postpartum.
• Forty-five percent of women took iron tablets for the recommended
period of 90 or more days, and 40 percent took deworming medication
during the pregnancy of their last birth.
The report, published by The Gambia Bureau of Statistics, observes
that “Good nutrition is a basic building block of human capital and,
as such, contributes to economic development. Adequate nutrition is
critical to child development, with the period from birth to age 2,
referred to as the critical window of opportunity, being important for
optimal growth, health, and development. Unfortunately, this period is
often marked by growth faltering, micronutrient deficiencies, and
common childhood illnesses such as malaria, diarrhoea, and acute
respiratory infections.
“A woman’s nutritional status has important implications for her
health as well as the health of her children. Malnutrition in women
results in reduced productivity, an increased susceptibility to
infections, slow recovery from illness, and heightened risks of
adverse pregnancy outcomes. For example, a woman who has poor
nutritional status, as indicated by a low body mass index (BMI), short
stature, anaemia, or other micronutrient deficiencies, has a greater
risk of obstructed labour, of having a baby with a low birth weight,
of producing lower quality breast milk, of mortality due to postpartum
haemorrhage, and of morbidity for both herself and her baby.”
Data collected reveal that more than one-quarter (26 percent) of male
children are stunted, as compared with 23 percent of female children.
Children in rural areas are more likely than those in urban areas to
be moderately stunted (29 percent and 19 percent, respectively) and
severely stunted (10 percent and 6 percent, respectively).
Mother’s level of education generally has an inverse relationship with
stunting levels. For example, children of mothers with a secondary
education or higher are less likely to be stunted (15 percent) than
children whose mothers have a primary education or no education (27-30