Stunting Levels in Mzimba Still Hovering Around 31% - Survey
A baseline survey commissioned by the Department of Nutrition HIV and Aids on the Afikepo project has shown that Mzimba district is still struggling to end malnutrition as over 31% of under five children are stunted.
The development has been attributed to poor diets where consumption of animal products is allegedly low coupled with poor sanitation and hygiene among communities with only 32% of the population having access to improved sanitation services, according to the survey.
Principal Nutrition and HIV officer at the Mmbelwa District Council Frank Mfuni says the findings disseminated at a district nutrition coordinating committee meeting are a wake-up call for stakeholders to scale up interventions that can improve nutrition levels in the district.
"We have looked at a number of indicators like infant and young children nutrition, adolescent nutrition, maternal nutrition, WASH and agriculture among others. According to the indicators in the report, as a district we are not doing well where over 30% of infants and young children are stunted while some are wasted," said Mfuni.
Mfuni added that as a district they will have to scale up interventions that can help improve nutrition like the production and consumption of animal products.
" It is unfortunate that one of the contributing factors to stunting is low consumption of animal food sources when as a district we keep a lot of cattle, goats, chickens and other small animals," observed Mfuni.
In terms of sanitation and hygiene, the findings from the survey indicate that about 32% of households in the district do not have access to proper sanitary services.
On agriculture the report notes that achieving a diversified diet is an issue because most families are yet to embrace the production of bio - fortified crops and not many families are involved in integrated homestead farming.
Meanwhile Civil Society Organization Nutrition Alliance CSONA Mzimba focal person Christopher Melele has urged the Mmbelwa district council sectors to increase funding towards nutrition interventions.
Melele said its sad to note that most interventions that promote nutrition in the district are being championed by non-state actors with very little coming from government departments.
"Issues of nutrition are very important as research has shown that good nutrition among children enhances their capabilities in class giving them a chance of growing to their full potential and assist in the development of the country," said Melele.
Cabinet has since approved a Food and Nutrition Bill which will effectively guarantee the right to adequate food and nutrition if passed into law.