The Zambia Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition Alliance has called for increased attention to addressing malnutrition in the country
Nearly 40% of Zambian children under the age of 5 are severely undernourished with more than half of all deaths in children under five years of age attributable to under nutrition as the underlying cause.
Zambia Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition Alliance stated that nutritional status is a key indicator of poverty and hunger, poor health, and inadequate education and social conditions.
This was when the Zambia Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition Alliance led by Alliance National Coordinator William Chilufya made an aappeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Community Development and Social Services on Thursday.
Mr Chilufya said the new post-2015 goals should aim to end hunger and reduce malnutrition in all its forms and recommended that that a standalone food and nutrition security goal be included.
‘The post-2015 framework should include a standalone food and nutrition security goal that aims for food and nutrition security for all, with targets to reduce stunting to below 5 percent, end childhood deaths from wasting and reduce wasting rates further below the 2025 target and reduce childhood overweight, ensure all households – and especially children aged 6-23 months and women of reproductive age – have access to nutritious diets,’ Mr Chilufya said.
He said there is need to ensure nutrition-related targets and indicators within other goals adding that reducing stunting and wasting requires a multi-sectoral response targeted at the poorest and most vulnerable.
‘Nutrition-related targets and indicators should be incorporated into other potential goals, including goals related to children’s health and mortality; women’s health and mortality; gender equality and women’s empowerment; water, sanitation and hygiene; education; and governance.’
Mr Chilufya also noted the need to specify threshold goals and targets in tackling malnutrition.
‘There are enough country examples to suggest that with political will, the right mix of policies, and adequate resources, it is feasible to make dramatic improvements in maternal and child nutrition, end stunting and wasting, and increase rates of exclusive breastfeeding. The post-2015 framework is an opportunity to raise the level of ambition,’ he said.
He said to ensure nutrition is not left off the MDGs, Zambia need to prioritise nutrition on the development agenda by eensuring effective high-level national coordination so that Mmalnutrition is not perceived solely as a health issue.
‘Malnutrition is a multi-faceted problem that requires coordinated action from multiple sectors of Government. By ensuring high level effective coordination through the NFNC being placed at a higher office such as the Vice President’s Office, we ensure that Nutrition actors are effectively coordinated. We further recommend that Government address the serious gaps to ensure adequate human resources at all levels.’
Mr Chilufya added, ‘Zambia cannot realistically expect to address the crisis of under-nutrition without urgently increasing the availability of qualified nutritionists. The crisis of malnutrition is complex and addressing it requires technical competence across sectors.’
‘Presently, Zambia has limited numbers of trained nutritionists and dieticians to provide the necessary guidance in addressing the challenge, both at policy and programme levels, either for preventive or curative interventions.’