- Only 7.8% children aged 6-23 months meet the minimum acceptable diet.
- Malawi losing about US$537 million per year in productivity,
- US$46 million in health and
- US$14 million in education.
An official from the Ministry of Health Department of Nutrition, HIV and AIDS (DNHA) has called on stakeholders to scale up nutrition efforts to reduce the amount of money the country is currently losing due to under nutrition.
Dalitso Kang’ombe made the call in Mzimba during the district policy dissemination of the Multi-sector Nutrition Policy and Strategic Plan 2018-2022.
Despite Malawi making progress in nutrition by reducing stunting from 55% in 1995 to 37% in 2016, wasting from 6% in 2014 to 1.3% in 2018, and achieving significant reduction in vitamin A deficiency from 59% in 2001 to 3.6% in 2016, gaps still exist.
For example, only 7.8% of children aged 6-23 months are consuming foods that meet the minimum acceptable diet.
Zinc deficiency is still high at 60% across all age groups and there are high rates of under-nutrition in adolescent girls aged 15-19 years at 12.9%.
Currently, the country is feeling the pinch of poor nutrition in early life which includes: stagnant national development, low education attainment, increased health care costs, low cognitive ability, poor immunity and low productivity.
It is estimated that due to under-nutrition, the country is losing about US$537 million per year in productivity, US$46 million in health and US$14 million in education bringing the total amount lost to US$597 million.
And Kang’ombe said; “eliminating malnutrition is therefore a necessary step for inclusive and sustained development. We have done a commendable job in decreasing malnutrition but we cannot relax until we eliminate it.”
“We need to scale up our efforts to sustain the progress made so far and reduce it further and that is the responsibility of each and every sector as the policy speaks for itself that it is multi-sectoral,” she said.
The Multi-Sector Nutrition Policy and Strategic Plan which was launched on June 20, 2018 serves as a guiding document for national nutrition stakeholders, including government and development partners to promote evidence-based programming and strengthening of the national nutrition response.
The documents is also aimed at , scaling up evidence-based innovative interventions, re-aligning nutrition interventions to the current national development strategy, the Sustainable development Goals, and other new global declarations which the Government has signed.
The policy provides the framework and context within which sectoral and other strategic plans and budgets should be formulated, monitored, and coordinated.
Priority areas of the policy includes: prevention of under-nutrition, gender, equality, protection, participation and empowerment, treatment and control of acute malnutrition, prevention and management of over-nutrition and non-communicable diseases, nutrition education, social mobilization and behavior change and nutrition during emergency situations among others.