Tanzania makes it on EU’s 40 priority states list

19Feb 2017
Beatrice Philemon
Guardian On Sunday
Tanzania makes it on EU’s 40 priority states list

THE European Union (EU) has decided to focus its support on 40 ‘priority’ countries including Tanzania.

The move will ensure that it tackles malnutrition globally and reduce the number of stunted children under the age of five.

Head of Delegation of the European Union to Tanzania, Roeland Van De Geer made the remark on Thursday during the Signing ceremony and launch of the project on malnutrition in the country.

He said the mentioned countries demonstrate high burden of stunting growth saying their governments were politically committed to reduce the levels of the problem.

At least 38 of the 40 countries including Tanzania have already identified actions that support all three strategic priorities of the EU Action Plan on Nutrition and these includes Enhance mobilization and political commitment for nutrition, Scale up actions at country level and Strengthening the expertise and the knowledge on nutrition.

The achievement exceeds the target of 30 countries set in the Action Plan and reflects the EU’s Success in bringing nutrition to the fore in national programming.

According to EU, the rate of chronic under-nutrition among children is driven by poverty, food insecurity and inadequate infant and young child feeding.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says childhood stunting, which is the impact of chronic malnutrition is one of the most significant impediments to human development , globally affecting 162 million children under the age of 5 years.

“If trends continue despite current efforts, there will still be a staggering number of 127 million stunted children under 5 years in 2025,” he said.

Stunting before the age of 2 years is likely to lead to poorer educational outcomes in later childhood and adolescence, and has significant economic consequences at the individual, household and community levels.

“The good news is that recent years have seen an unprecedented momentum aimed at reducing the number of children affected by undernutrition around the world,” he said
Tackling undernutrition has become a political concern, an economic imperative and a development priority.

Despite important improvement in many health indicators over the last decade in Tanzania, there has been insufficient progress in improving the nutritional status of children and women.

The persistent levels of stunting, wasting and micronutrient deficiencies constitute a silent emergency and More than 2.7 million Tanzanian children under 5 are estimated to be stunted and more than 600,000 children under 5 suffer from acute malnutrition in 2015.

According to him, Tanzanian government has recently reaffirmed its commitment to end malnutrition at the third Joint Multi-sectoral Nutrition Review (JMNR).

The government’s adherence to the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN), movement and the “call to action in nutrition” also demonstrate its’ commitment to nutrition as a national priority as does the recently launched National Multi-sectoral Nutrition Action Plan which sets the agenda for how to tackle nutrition challenges in Tanzania.

Elaborating on Malnutrition, he said malnutrition impairs people’s productivity which in turn impairs national growth therefore it often represents an invisible impediment to the successful achievement of the sustainable development Goals (SDGs).

Good nutrition is both an outcome of development and the seed that will grow future development.

A report from the World Food Programme project (WFP) indicate that Tanzania has a high prevalence of chronic malnutrition with 34 percent of children under the age of five years stunted.

Fifty percent of children aged 6-59 months are anaemic.Poor nutrition is also a serious problem among women of reproductive age with 45 percent anaemic, and of which one percent is severely anaemic (TDHS), 2015.

The high rates of chronic under –nutrition among children in Tanzania are driven by poverty and food insecurity but also largely by poor infant and young child caring and feeding practices at the household level.

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