Malawi has seen the reduction of stunting children from 47 per cent in 2010 to 42 per cent in 2014, a development attributed to the launch of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN), a senior government official has said.
Stunting – or low height for age – occurs when children miss out on vital nutrients in the womb and in the first two years of their lives. Its effects are enduring, causing frequent illness, poor educational performance and low productivity at work.
Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Dr Mary Shawa said Thursday in Lilongwe during the SUN Learning Forum at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) that Malawi has made “significant progress”, saying adequate nutrition is critical for one’s physical and intellectual development and work productivity, and is therefore an integral element for socioeconomic development.
“The cost of Hunger report clearly highlighted that addressing nutrition issues require multi-sectoral coordination and am happy to report that to you that the government is committed to ensure that coordination is strengthened at all levels through Department Nutrition, HIV and AIDS,” said Shawa.
The PS said the SUN learning forum is a bi-annual event that aims at putting heads together and review its implementation activities.
Minister of finance, economic planning and development, Goodall Gondwe is on record saying that government is determined to channel adequate resources towards nutrition interventions.
He said the government will also “strengthen institutional and human capacity for the effective delivery of nutrition services.”
And according to Shawa, there is need to diversify in terms of production not just relying on maize as rain is undependable there is need to be preparing the household with a quarter acre cassava, potatoes or groundnut and the other part maize.
A recent research commissioned by African Union and backed by Malawian government warns that without greater attention to the issue, Malawi’s economic development will be further undermined.
It calls for nutritional efforts to be focused on vulnerable groups – including infants, young and school-age children, and people living with HIV – and stresses the importance of breastfeeding, diverse diets, water, sanitation and hygiene programmes, and strategies to prevent and reverse undernutrition, such as deworming and micronutrient treatments.-Additional reporting by Gladys Kamakanda, Mana