Government is concerned with high malnutrition levels in the country, with stunting levels standing at 35 percent.
Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo said Zambia is facing various burdens of malnutrition which includes under nutrition in different forms such as stunting.
Ms Masebo noted that micronutrient deficiencies in the form of anemia and over nutrition in the form of overweight and obesity are some of the forms of malnutrition the country is faced with.
She explained that diet related non communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension have strained the delivery of the health care services in the country.
Ms Masebo noted that these forms of malnutrition have caused a threat to individual and national development of the country.
ZANIS reports that the Minister said this today when she officially opened the two days National Nutrition Conference in Lusaka.
Ms Masebo observed that the rate of reduction is very slow making it difficult for the country to attain the earmarked global target of stunting reduction to 25 percent by the year 2030.
She said the trajectory of the slow improvement means that attaining the United Nations sustainable development goal number 2 which aims to achieve zero hunger by 2030.
Ms Masebo stated that therefore there is need for more concerted and sustainable efforts to change this picture.
She stated that the government is alive in this situation adding that using the nutrition agenda remains high for the government.
Ms Masebo said this is because investing in nutrition is one of the cost effective drivers for development and prosperity adding that every one dollar invested in nutrition can generate 16 dollars in return.
The Minister said good health and nutrition are among the most important contributory factors for human resource development.
Ms Masebo noted that unhealthy eating and physical inactivity causes one third of premature deaths adding that no wonder nutrition related non communicable diseases have become a major threat to public health.
“Evidence therefore plays an important role in accelerating progress in addressing the alarming rates of malnutrition. It is my hope that this conference can provide solutions and innovations required to meet the aspirations of addressing all forms of malnutrition.” Ms Masebo stated.
Speaking at the same function, National Nutrition Coordinating Committee (NNCC) Vice Chair Person Lilian Kapusana said the conference provides the platform for sharing evidenced based food and nutrition information derived from research, surveys, assessments and innovations learnt from programme implementation by all stakeholders.
Ms Kapusana who is also the Vice President at the office of the Vice President said the government will continue implementing strategies that will help reduce malnutrition levels in the country.
She thanked all cooperating partners for their continued support to help the country address the nutrition situation in the country adding that more partners are welcome as malnutrition has continued to be a challenge.
And United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Office of Economic Development and Environment, Feed the Future Coordinator David Howlett said USAID and its partners recognize the pivotal role of nutrition in achieving sustainable development goals.
Mr Howlett said good nutrition is a cornerstone for health and economic progress of any country hence its commitment to continue supporting the Zambian government in scaling up nutrition in Zambia.
He therefore commended the Zambian government for addressing key factors that contribute to ending malnutrition in the country.
Meanwhile, representing the United Nations Resident Coordinator Beatrice Munthali, UNICEF Representative Penelope Campbell said the UN will continue collaborating with the Zambian government to combat malnutrition.