IMFeD For Growth Celebrates 10 Years of Empowering Malaysia to Measure, Identify, & Manage Our Children’s Growth


The Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA) celebrated the 10th year anniversary of its ‘IMFeD For Growth’ programme (IMFeD) today. The event was officiated by Minister of Health, Yang Berhormat Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar.

IMFeD was launched by MPA in 2012. Since its launch, the programme has been driven by a panel of different experts, including paediatricians, dietitians, and psychologists.

According to Dr Selva Kumar Sivapunniam, President of MPA, the first phase (2012 – 2017) revolved around the ‘Identification and Management of Feeding Difficulty’ (abbreviated to ‘IMFeD’). The second phase (2018-2022) saw the programme expanding its scope to include growth screening and intervention for growth faltering to prevent stunting.

He said, “Children are considered stunted when they are too short for their age. Malaysia has among the highest childhood stunting rates in the region, affecting 1 in 5 (21.8%) children aged 5 years and below, and around 1 in 12 (8.2%) adolescents. This problem can be found across both urban and rural families, irrespective of socioeconomic status.

“This is very worrying because stunting is associated with reduced immunity, cognitive impairment, as well as chronic diseases, and reduced socioeconomic opportunities in adulthood.”

Professor Dr Lee Way Seah, Chairman of the IMFeD For Growth programme, remarked that, of all the factors that may contribute to stunting in children, the most common is undernutrition.

Good nutrition is crucial to children’s growth and development at all stages, especially during the formative period of 1-5 years old, and early adolescence (10-15 years). Nutrients such as protein, calcium and vitamin D improve bone and muscle development, while micronutrients like arginine and vitamin K2 support longer and stronger bones for optimal height gain.

Professor Lee continued, “The IMFeD expert panel set out to develop guidance for much-needed nutritional support for children experiencing growth faltering. Solutions ranged from handy tips to enhance or fortify their food, to educating parents on a variety of locally available nutritious food. This was coupled with an effort to bring doctors and parents together to check on the children’s growth at least once a year.”

In 2018, IMFeD rolled out its childhood growth screening & counselling campaign via its network of over 200 private clinics. This allowed participating doctors to measure the children’s weight and height and assess their growth status, identify risk factors if growth issues were evident, and advise parents on how to manage the situation with appropriate nutritional and lifestyle interventions. To date, the programme has performed over 100,000 growth checks. Screening data revealed that 1 in 5 children under the age of 5 was at risk of poor growth.

Vision for Childhood Growth
According to Professor Lee, the next phase of the IMFeD For Growth (2023-2027) will focus on three thrusts.

He said, “The first involves extending its scope from the initial 1-5 years to 1-17 years to enable IMFeD to detect and manage growth faltering wherever it may occur in childhood and adolescence.

“The second is capacity building. Healthcare professionals play a vital role in the fight against childhood stunting. They are the best guiding voices to help parents and children who may be falling behind. Thus, we plan to organise training for general practitioners, medical officers, family medicine specialists, and nurses in private and public clinics. This will help ensure that growth can continue to be prioritised in urban and rural environments, affluent and lower socio-economic settings.

“Third, we will amplify the IMFeD For Growth screening and counselling campaign to benefit more children and adolescents each year.”

This year’s screening and counselling campaign will run from August to October 2022. Parents who are concerned about their children’s growth are encouraged to consult their doctor or locate an IMFeD clinic by visiting https://clinics.imfed.my/.

The 10th anniversary of the IMFeD For Growth programme follows the recent announcement by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on the 2022-2030 National Strategic Plan to Address the Problem of Stunting in Children while aiming to reduce child stunting to 8% by 2030.

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