A nutrition study of the interior, west coast and Kudat division of Sabah

The study was published in 1981. The following is the summary of the report.


In terms of anthropometric indices, the extent of malnutrition that exists in the Kudat, West Coast and Interior Divisions of Sabah and provides a benchmark against which changes for the better or worse can be measured.
The ecological studies carried out in the five selected communities provide an insight into the factors that contribute to malnutrition in these rural communities. On the basis of this data it should now be easier to plan a rational food and nutrition programme to reduce the extent of malnutrition among the people of Sabah. What is abundantly clear is that not only is malnutrition a fairly extensive and important problem in Sabah, its causation is multifactorial and hence its management must be multidisciplinary in nature.

At a minimum, a food and nutrition programme for Sabah must involve the Ministries of Health, Education and Agriculture. The impact of better communications and roads, and the availability of improved marketing facilities on malnutrition are just a few examples of the complexity of the problem and the role other agencies can play in the reduction of malnutrition. However, for the purposes of this report, only recommendations directly related to the Ministry of Health will be made, but this should not be taken to mean that the role of other agencies is less important or negligible.


The following are the recommendations provided in the report:

  1. A multidisciplinary programme involving, at the minimum, the Ministries of Health, Education and Agriculture, be undertaken on a wide geographical basis, particularly among subsistence farming communities dependent largely upon hill paddy, such as the Rungus Dusun and Murut communities, to reduce the extent of malnutrition present in rural Sabah.
  2. Supplementary feeding programmes for school children, particularly at the primary school level, be initiated and strengthened.
  3. In the context of the “International Drinking-Water Supply and Sanitation Decade, 1981-1990”, efforts be directed to increasing the number of rural communities provided with clean water supplies and sanitary toilets.
  4. Immunization efforts against communicable diseases, such as diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, tuberculosis, poliomyelitis and measles, be strengthened particularly in the more isolated and rural communities of Sabah.
  5. Health education efforts to improve nutritional knowledge, particularly in respect of food taboos· affecting the mother and child, be strengthened.
  6. Ecological studies to better understand the basis for malnutrition in other ethnic communities such as the Bajaus, Bisayas, Kadayans, etc. be undertaken so that action programmes can take into consideration the different cultural backgrounds of each ethnic group.
  7. A similar nutritional study be conducted in the Sandakan and Tawau Divisions of Sabah where ecological conditions are vastly different.
  8. The extent of malnutrition in the Kudat, West Coast and Interior Divisions of Sabah be re-measured at the time of the mid-term review of the Fourth Malaysia Plan to indicate if efforts have had any material impact in reducing malnutrition.

Organisation: Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Office of the Director of Medical Services, Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
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Detail: 159 pages (1981)
Publisher: Department of Social and Preventive Medicine