President Chakwera releases plans towards the nutrition strategy
By Nellie Kapatuka, MANA
President Lazarus Chakwera has ordered that frontline nutrition officers be reinstated part of the measures his administration has put in place in the fight against malnutrition in the country.
Speaking in Lilongwe on Thursday during the launch of the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) 3.0 strategy at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC), Chakwera said the country needs to invest into addressing health challenges being faced which become expensive to solve once they are neglected.
He disclosed that Malawi now has a coordinating office to manage its nutrition policy and a nutrition strategic plan to guide the scaling up of nutrition.
However, despite tremendous progress that has been made in the sector, Chakwera said the country’s stunting levels remains at over 30%, a high rate according to the World Health Organization (WHO) classification, which notes that nutrition indicators are significantly going down.
“According to the 2020 integrated household survey, stunting has gown down from 47% to 33%, Vitamin A deficiency has been reduced from 22 to a lower 3.6% and a proportion of children — who require hospitalization due to severe and acute malnutrition — has significantly reduced from 3% to less than 1%.”
Chakwera attributing the gains registered to the power of partnership the country has with its donors and developmental partners.
He has since made a commitment to ensure strengthened nutritional operations and systems nationwide and adequate allocation of resources to nutrition at local councils by placing nutrition officers across the country.
The SUN 3.0 strategy will reenergize the country to cover up on the losses made over the years in the nutrition sector, including those perpetuated by CoVID-19 — to render specialized nutritional services to all Malawians, especially those in hard-to-reach rural areas.
Also present at the launch was Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who said the fight against malnutrition also requires strengthening local councils to have sustainable and remarkable impacts.
He challenged people in the country to be action-oriented if the country is to register meaningful development.
Also present during the launch was, SUN 3.0 strategy’s assistant secretary general and coordinator for the United Nations, Gerda Verburg stressed on the need for the country to walk the talk in the fight against malnutrition.
Verburg said very strong commitments have been made during the launch and has since asked government and stakeholders to see to it that they materialize.
Making presentations on topics ‘Progress and state of nutrition in Malawi’ and ‘Nutrition Key for Malawi growth’, both Felix Pensulo Phiri and Alexander Kalimbira asked for collective efforts and actions to address current challenges in the sector.
Kalimbira said Malawi 2063 will not materialize if optimal nutrition is not being provided in the country.
The launch was held under the theme ‘Unite to end all forms of malnutrition for sustainable human wellbeing and economic development’.
President Chakwera also launched the revised Nutrition Education and Communications Strategy and the Eat Well to Live Well guide — which are fundamental tools for informing, educating and promoting adoption of appropriate dietary practices and healthy lifestyles to improve the nutritional status and wellbeing of all Malawians.