Reading the Unicef report

With the Unicef report last month highlighting problems with child malnutrition in People’s Housing Projects (PPRs) in Kuala Lumpur, there is a need to look at the data objectively.

These are the details that I feel pertinent from the report, as highlighted by Unicef:

General info

  • The head of the households are mostly Malay, male, between the ages of 30-59, married, with 1-2 children
  • Most of them have a secondary school education (Forms 4-5), working, full time and semi skilled
  • Most are working 48 hours a week, and those earning hourly wages make RM9-12 per hour

Income and welfare

  • Most of those surveyed have a household income below RM3,000, with a majority earning between RM1,000 and RM1,999
  • 65 percent are living with assistance, most of which is the 1Malaysia People’s Welfare Plan (BR1M)
  • All families have no savings

Cleanliness and relationships

  • Most of these areas are clean in terms of public areas and drainage
  • There is a majority of good feelings among interethnic neighbours
  • More than half of the respondents spend enough time with their parents, and 58 percent are housewives
  • Smoking is a big issue among the children (65 percent say their kids are smokers)


  • 51 percent of kids are not in preschool
  • 40 percent of households don’t have toys, 30 percent don’t have books
  • In terms of grades from PMR, PPR kids are above the national average in both Mathematics and Science, while English is average

Eating habits

  • Most children have 3-5 meals a day, with only 12 percent having less than 3 meals
  • The main barrier to prepping healthy food is high prices and insufficient income
  • Even those with enough food eat out rarely


  • Underweight, stunting and wasting are twice the national average
  • Obesity is four times the national average
  • States with above national average stunting – Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Putrajaya, Perak, Sabah, Labuan, Sarawak

Regional index (lower number being better)

  • 8th in terms of wasting
  • 3rd in terms of stunting
  • 4th in terms of underweight
  • 7th in terms of overweight
  • 9th in terms of obesity

Health issues 

  • 3.7 percent increase in stunting compared to 2006
  • 1.5 percent decrease in wasting compared to 2006
  • 1.6 percent increase in anaemia among pregnant women compared to 2006
  • PPR kids show higher than national average in underweight (1 percent), stunting (1 percent) and even wasting (8 percent)
  • 85 percent of PPR kids are normal or overweight
  • 78 percent of PPR kids are normal or tall
  • 56 percent of PPR kids are of normal weight
  • 11 percent of PPR kids are overweight
  • 12 percent of PPR kids are obese
  • 85 percent of PPR kids aged 2 years are normal and/or tall
  • 78 percent of PPR kids aged 4 years are normal and/or tall
  • 73 percent of PPR kids aged 2 years are of normal weight, 23 percent are overweight
  • 62 percent of PPR kids aged 4 years are normal, 17 percent are overweight
  • By ethnicity, the Chinese are suffering the worst in terms of stunting (33 percent) and wasting (38 percent) while the Indians marked the highest level of underweight (18 percent) and obesity (31 percent)

What’s the problem, then?

There are a few, actually, from an objective stance without going into the “no child left behind” belief.

Primarily, it brings up the need to reconsider a few things in PPRs. There is a list of recommendations in the Unicef report. But I’ve a few ideas.

Here are a few things:

  • Smoke alarms in each unit and public areas to make smoking harder (for everyone)
  • All PPRs should have government assisted establishments nearby – this include Klinik 1Malaysia, Kedai Runcit 1Malaysia (KR1M), a Welfare Department Office to increase accessibility to financial assistance, and even the Kedai Buku 1Malaysia
  • BR1M needs to add on a housewife allowance which considers the number of children in each household
  • A government allowance account at the KR1M, tied in to the local clinic to assist issues on wasting, malnutrition and obesity?
  • KKM workshop with kids in schools to talk about nutrition and exercise
  • A common area in the PPR ground floor for a library and recreation area where tutors (government NGO plan) can hold classes, entrepreneurs can host training sessions
  • Open allotments for PPR residents to plant food, with NGO involvement




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