Sweden backs TAHA on diets, nutrition compass

By Guardian Correspondent , The Guardian
Published at 07:26 AM Jun 22 2024
TAHA’s Chief Development Manager, Mr Anthony Chamanga, addressing the crowd yesterday during the official opening of the Nutrition Day held in Mbulu District, Manyara Region
Photo: Courtesy of TAHA
TAHA’s Chief Development Manager, Mr Anthony Chamanga, addressing the crowd yesterday during the official opening of the Nutrition Day held in Mbulu District, Manyara Region

THE Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) in partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) has embarked on a relentless campaign to augment the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Anthony Chamanga, the TAHA chief development manager, made this announcement here yesterday at a nutrition day event hosted by Laghangesh village in Mbulu District, Manyara Region, explaining that the campaign is intended to complement government initiatives to combat malnutrition.

The event which attracted more than 300 people from within and outside the region is designed to rotate regionally to promote nutritional awareness, he said, noting the importance of dietary choices in mitigating risks for chronic illnesses.

These range from heart disease and cancer, while changing dietary habits can enhance life expectancy, he stated, stressing that what you eat and don’t eat can reduce your risk of medical conditions, at present or later in life.

Over five million individuals have been exposed to nutrition education through diverse platforms, including media outlets, social networks and assorted publications last year alone, he stated.

Over 11,000 urban and rural individuals were imparted with conceptual exposition and nutritional advice, while regional commissioner Queen Sendiga highlighted the significant health and economic repercussions of malnutrition.

Understanding that the impact of malnutrition extends beyond individual health and adversely affects families, communities and the nation, the RC pointed at the link between rising cases of non-communicable diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer, to poor dietary habits.

These habits often exclude essential food groups like vegetables and fruits, she stated, expressing dismay with forgetting the group of vegetables and fruits in regular meals.

Poor nutrition can lead to anaemia, vitamin A deficiency and folate deficiency, she said, highlighting the detrimental effects of poor nutrition on children’s physical and mental development, hampering classroom performance.

This can result in irreversible health complications, impairing the physical and mental development of children, reducing the ability to do well in school and also reduces effectiveness in adult life, she implored, specifying that it can also lead to permanent health problems.

She assured the audience of collaborative efforts between the government and organizations like TAHA to educate the masses on nutritional best practices.

Overall, Sendiga’s address was a call to action for improved dietary habits and enhanced public awareness to combat malnutrition and its wide-ranging consequences.

Marking the day is meant to diminish stunting, alleviate micronutrient deficiencies and curb the prevalence of non-communicable diseases through well-coordinated sensitization efforts and effective nutritional interventions, TAHA says in its presentation.

TAHA's efforts resonated through national agricultural shows like Nane-Nane and Sabasaba exhibitions, reaching more than 150,500 individuals with vital nutrition information.

Schools across the nation have also benefited significantly, with an estimated 75,481 pupils exposed to nutritional activities, including the creation of vegetable gardens and the provision of nutrition education.

TAHA disseminated 35 comprehensive nutrition articles, advocating the benefits of a balanced diet enriched with horticultural products.

The Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey of 2022 revealed that around 30 percent of children aged up to three years are already stunted, while 12 percent are underweight and four percent are overweight.

Similarly, findings by the Tanzania National Nutrition Survey in 2018 highlighted that 31.7 percent of women aged 15 to 49 are overweight, 7.3 percent are underweight, 1.7 percent emaciated and 28.8 percent anaemic in Manyara Region, officials noted.

Regionally, a staggering 32 percent of children are stunted, 18.9 percent underweight and 4.7 percent thin on the basis of 2022 statistics, meanwhile as in acknowledging the sobering data, TAHA in collaboration with regional and district nutrition offices, drew up the wide ranging nutritional undertaking in Mbulu District.

The effort involves identifying areas with high malnutrition rates to strategically implement interventions aimed at addressing these nutritional challenges.

Certain analysts see the spirited campaign as representing a bright spot amidst the dark clouds of fashionable eating with nutritional deficiencies.

By empowering communities with education and access to nutritious fruits and vegetables TAHA is lighting the path towards a healthier future, the RC affirmed.