About 54 percent of under-5 deaths in Zambia are caused by malnutrition and nutrition related complications, says Bweengwe Member of Parliament Highvie Hamududu.
Mr. Hamududu said it was unfortunate that so many children have to die when all was required was an increase in awareness and activities that support nutrition among the most vulnerable grouping in society.
Speaking during the ‘MPs Champions of Nutrition’ meeting held yesterday Mr Hamududu said that there was little information on the effects of malnutrition on the general population despite its adverse effects on national development.
“As law makers, we lack statistics of nutrition related matters such as illnesses and deaths. Zambia remains one of the most affected countries in the world, it’s unacceptable to have 46% under 5 children malnourished, this state of affairs needs to be addressed with urgency or else we risk having a malnourished population,” Mr. Hamududu said.
He explained that enhanced nutrition programmes could be achieved with increased political will from those in government especially the president who could use his influence on national matters.
The meeting was organized by the Civil Society Organisations Scaling Up Nutrition (CSO-SUN) Alliance with particular emphasis on the malnutrition levels and their effects in the country.
Some of the MPs present in the meeting included Lukulu East MMD MP Dr Christopher Kalila, Kasenengwa MP Victoria Kalima, Lubansenshi’s Patrick Mucheleka and Mulumemui Imenda of Luena Constituency in Western Province, who are members of the Parliamentary Committee on Nutrition.
Others were Chama North MP January Zimba and MMD Chipata Central MP, Mutolo Phiri also attended the meeting which featured representation from Care International Zambia and the Irish Aid in Zambia.
The meeting was meant to share information on the state of the nutrition in Zambia and the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiative aimed at accelerating nutrition development on the long-standing poor state of nutrition among the children.
CSO-SUN National Coordinator William Chilufya explained that evidence exists of the need for high political will in order to ensure successful nutrition outcomes to reduce unnecessary sickness and deaths in children.
“There is a recognition that improving nutrition requires action across multiple sectors, including health, water, sanitation and hygiene, agriculture, education, and women’s empowerment, through the inclusion of nutrition targets throughout the development framework,” he said.
Mr Chilufya explained that the initiative’s aim should be to strengthen and scale up existing interventions that scientific evidence has shown to be most effective in reducing malnutrition.
He said for effective results, there was need for support from Parliamentarians in Scaling Up Nutrition on how best to move forward in fighting malnutrition, which was not just an outcome of development, but also a driver of development and economic growth.
“Globally, we have joined hands with our international partners on working on the Post MDGs determined to have a clear goal on food and nutrition security, with a focus on the getting to zero on stunting especially during the vital 1,000 day window from pregnancy to age two, provides an approach to end extreme poverty that addresses inequalities, focuses on the most vulnerable and reinforces resilience,” he said.
Mr. Hamududu further added that as MPs, there was need to encourage the media to take a lot of interest in the silent killer in the name of improving malnutrition.
“We are encouraged by the plans of cooperating partners to set up a nutrition fund, we shall engage colleagues in government to ensure the commitment by the donors is marched with government funding. On our party we shall work towards ensuring nutrition is kept high,” he said.
Over 46 percent of children in Zambia are undernourished and suffer the effects of malnutrition which costs the country millions in diseases control and treatment.
Recently, University Teaching Hospital (UTH) managing director Lackson Kasonka lamented the difficulties faced by the largest health facility in the country in the treatment of malnutrition related infections.