Vice President Inonge Wina says Zambia needs to come up with ways that will enable breastfeeding mothers spend more time with their babies.
Mrs Wina said working mothers sometimes have to rush back to work for fear of being replaced.
She said the practice is proving costly in the fight against childhood malnutrition.
Mrs Wina said childhood malnutrition is a big development issue in Zambia which needs concerted efforts to address.
The Vice President was speaking at her office on Friday when a delegation from the Zambia Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition Alliance paid a courtesy call.
“We need to find a balance between the need for breastfeeding mothers to return to work and the need for the industry to maintain productivity. We may have to review certain laws and policies in that regard,” Mrs Wina said.
“When mothers are forced to return to work, they have to employ someone to take care of the baby and sometimes the baby is fed on less nutritious foods which increase the risk of malnutrition,” Mrs Wina said.
Mrs Wina also paid tribute to the Zambia Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition Alliance for its efforts to raise awareness on the challenge posed by malnutrition.
She however urged the organisation and other NGOs working in the development sector to spread their work to outlaying areas where she said the need was greater.
Mrs Wina affects the overall national development as it delays brain development of children.
She also called for the promotion of consumption of local and indigenous foods as a way of reducing malnutrition.
“It is a pity that we seem to be abandoning our local foods in preference for western foods. Somehow today, people feel that the Chibwabwas is less nutritious than some of these western meals,” Mrs Wina said.
And Zambia Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition Alliance National Coordinator William Chilufya hailed Mrs Wina for the role she is playing in combating malnutrition.
Mr Chilufya agreed with Mrs Wina that breastfeeding mothers must be given adequate time to breastfeed their babies in line with this year’s World Breastfeeding week theme, “Breastfeeding and Work, let’s make it work.”
“Our major concern is that some working mothers are depending on breast milk substitutes such as fizzy milk to feed their babies. As long as the baby’s belly is full, they think the baby has been feed which is a misconception,” Mr Chilufya said.
He also appealed to Government to consider employing more Nutritionists in the public health sector as a way of prevention malnutrition.
Mr Chilufya further appealed for Government’s intervention to enable Nutritionists start affiliating to the Professional Health Council of Zambia in order to raise their recognition.
“It is commendable that a Degree Programme is now available at UNZA for those wishing to take up a career in nutrition but our cry is that these professionals are not affiliated to the Professional Health Council of Zambia, we would like them affiliated as a way of motivating them because we treat them as members of the cadre of health workers in this country,” Mr Chilufya said.
He also appealed to government to quicken the amendment of the National Food and Nutrition Commission Act to make it more responsive to today’s nutrition challenges.
“Your Honour, the NFNC Act was enacted around 1967 and you will agree with me that nutrition challenges back then and today are different, then we didn’t have obesity in Zambia but now we ave a double burden, that is under nutrition and obesity so we need a law that will be relevant to today’s challenges,” Mr Chilufya told Vice President Wina.