All of us must redouble efforts to combat malnutrition

21Jul 2016
The Guardian
All of us must redouble efforts to combat malnutrition

THE Global Nutrition Report (GNR) is the only independent and comprehensive annual review of the state of the world’s nutrition.

The 2016 report which was launched yesterday in Dar es Salaam by Vice-President Samia Hassan Sululu focuses on the theme of making and measuring global commitments to nutrition, and what it will take to end malnutrition in all its forms by 2030.

This edition of the report presents a comprehensive analysis of the multiple burdens of malnutrition, from stunting and wasting to obesity and related non-communicable diseases.

Findings reveal a global lack of progress against malnutrition which now afflicts one in three people worldwide. Beyond health burdens, the report offers new data on the cost of malnutrition to societies and individuals, explores examples of progress and offers ways to engage stakeholders to help end malnutrition across a variety of sectors from education and agriculture to sanitation and hygiene. The 2016 Global Nutrition Report points to ways to reverse this trend and end all forms of malnutrition by 2030.

The results of a national nutrition survey released in Tanzania show that between 2010 and 2014, chronic malnutrition – stunting, or low height for age among children under five in the country fell from 42 per cent to 35 per cent.
Under nutrition, and especially stunting, is one of the silent crises for children in Tanzania, according to UNICEF.

Malnutrition has severe consequences. It blunts the intellect, saps the productivity of everyone it touches and perpetuates poverty. The success we are celebrating today is due to increased political commitment and improved coordination mechanisms for nutrition since 2011.

In 2011, Tanzania became a key partner in the major global initiative called the scaling up nutrition (SUN) movement, which is bringing much needed focus and investment for nutrition in a number of countries. Former President Jakaya Kikwete became a member of the high-level international SUN lead group and played a key role in the promotion of the nutrition agenda at the international level and in Tanzania.

We are saying these results are very encouraging. The hidden crisis of chronic malnutrition is robbing thousands of our children of their full potential and hampering the social and economic progress of Tanzania.

Tanzania launched a five-year national nutrition strategy (2011-2016) with an implementation plan which guides actions by ministries, departments, agencies and local government authorities, as well as development partners.

The government is also tracking investments in nutrition. In 2014, the Ministry of Finance conducted the first public expenditure review of the nutrition sector and first joint multi-sectoral review of nutrition analysing the implementation of the first three years of the national nutrition strategy.

Despite the achievements, child malnutrition remains an important challenge in Tanzania. All of us in the country .government, communities, UNICEF and others must redouble our efforts to combat this problem.

According to estimates, Tanzania still has more than 2.7 million children under five who are stunted. More than 430,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition. Among these are some 100,000 diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition, which means they have a high risk of dying if they do not receive appropriate treatment.

Stunting can permanently impair a child’s physical and cognitive development, trapping them into a cycle of poverty and inequity. The damage often leads to poorer school performance, leading to future income reductions of up to 22 per cent on average. As adults, they are also at increased risk of illness and disease.

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