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Open Access Research article

Investigating the spatial variations of high prevalences of severe malnutrition among children in Papua New Guinea: results from geoadditive models

Handan Wand1*, Namarola Lote2, Irene Semos2 and Peter Siba2

Author Affiliations

1 The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

2 Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Goroka, Papua New Guinea

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:288  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-228

Published: 11 May 2012

Abstract

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of the nutritionally vulnerable countries with a high rate of children death without showing a sign of improvement in last two decades. Current study investigated the prevalences of stunting and wasting among a cohort of children in PNG and described the spatial features of these outcomes at the province and district-levels.

To determine the prevalences of stunting and wasting among a cohort of children in PNG and to describe the spatial features of these outcomes at the province and district-levels. We also described the spatial features of these outcomes at province and district-levels.

The health and nutritional status of 683 children aged less than five years was assessed using a cross-sectional multi-stage household survey conducted in the Eastern Highlands and Madang Provinces of PNG during the period of 2003–2004. Growth z-scores such as height-for-age and weight-for-age were generated using World Health Organization classifications.

The prevalences of stunting (height-for-age z-score less than −2.0) were 59% and 49% in the Eastern Highlands and Madang respectively (P = 0.019). The prevalences of wasting (weight-for-height z-score less than −2.0) were 14% and 22% in Eastern Highlands and Madang respectively, (P = 0.039); overall, only 21% of the children had completed all their scheduled vaccines and 95% of the caregivers had less than primary school education. Our statistical maps showed considerable spatial variations (province- and district-levels) with regard to the stunting, wasting and other key factors within a relatively small geographical region.

Current study determined one of the highest prevalence of stunting among children in PNG. The impact of geographical locations on the risk factors must be recognized as it affects epidemiology and intervention coverage.

Keywords:
Malnutrition; Stunting; Wasting; Children; Papua New Guinea