High stunting rate worries Mangochi

The Mangochi District Council has bemoaned the district’s high rate of stunting among under-five children challenging stakeholders implementing nutrition programmes in the district to pull up their socks in mitigating the problem.

Mnenula: Wary

Senior Nutrition, HIV and Aids Officer for Mangochi, Smith Mnenula, made the call on Monday during a two-day meeting that Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) organized with the District Monitoring and Evaluation Coordination Committee (DMECC).

The meeting was held with the aim of analyzing nutrition data for the district under the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Project.

Mnenula said it is very worrisome for the council to note that despite the district having so many players who are implementing nutrition projects; stunting levels among under-five children remain high.

“There is a lot of money that is being invested towards nutrition programs in Mangochi but nutrition levels continue to dwindle, why?” wondered the officer.

According to the Malawi Demographic and Health Survey (MDHS), Mangochi is one of the districts with the highest rate of stunting among children under the age of five.

“The stunting rate for Mangochi, according to the 2016 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey is around 45 percent which translates that nearly half of the children in the district are stunted,” he said.

Mnenula emphasized that to fight stunting in children, implementing players should target children with their programs during their early years which he said was the critical period.

“Stunting starts when the child is around two years and once it is uncorrected it is irreversible,” he said adding that the problem also leaves children susceptible to other diseases.

He advised the DMECC members to always adhere to pre-designed tools and structures for the successful implementation of the SUN Project rather than designing their own tools and structures.

He said the government-laid organizational structure for the SUN Project involves the Department of Nutrition, HIV and Aids (DNHA), District Nutrition Coordinating Committee (DNCC), Area Nutrition Coordinating Committee (ANCC), and Village Nutrition Coordinating Committee (VNCC).

He added that the implementation of the SUN Project is based on the care group model which involves registration of every household; clustering of the households and choosing of cluster leaders; formation of care groups from the cluster leaders and choosing of promoters.

“Every implementing partner is supposed to follow these structures that are already established in all communities across the country,” emphasized Mnenula.

Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) is implementing SUN Project in four Traditional Authorities in Mangochi, namely: Chowe, Chimwala,Chilipa, and Chiunda.

According to MRCS Assistant Project Officer for SUN, Malumbo Nyirenda, the project is targeting women of child bearing age, pregnant women, lactating women and children under five years of age.

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