THE Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition Alliance (CSO-SUN) has urged President-elect Edgar Lungu to prioritise improving nutrition as well as food security in the country as one of his immediate actions in his new five year mandate and has called for the enactment of the revised National Food and Nutrition (NFNC) Act of 1967.
CSO-SUN program officer for advocacy and communication Mwandwe Chileshe said that after the conclusion of last month’s general elections, it was important for leaders holding public office to set the country on a path of growth and inclusive development.
Mr Chileshe has since appealed to President Lungu to prioritise improving nutrition as one of his immediate actions as he assumes a full five year term because the country had continued to experience a double burden of malnutrition, where 40% of children under the age of five were stunted, a situation which affected their full potential to attain intellectual as well as physical growth.
“As President-elect His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu begins his mandate, we urge that nutrition be one of the first things he addresses immediately.
As a Country, we are faced with the double burden of malnutrition, where 40% of our children under the age of five are stunted which affects overall growth in childhood and limits the development of full intellectual and physical potential of children,” he said.
He said it was important that Mr Lungu, working with other stakeholders, ensured nutrition was on top of his priority list for the national developmental agenda.
Mr Chileshe said that the NFNC Act of 1967, in its current form did not support the attainment of optimal nutrition status for all Zambians as it had never been repealed since its adoption in 1967.
He has called for the prioritising of the presentation of the bill to Members of Parliament (MP) as soon as the Parliament resumed deliberations.
“It is important that President-elect, working with all stakeholders, ensures nutrition is top on his priority list for national developmental agenda. As initial steps for the incoming government, CSO-SUN is calling for the immediate enactment of the revised National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFNC) Act of 1967, which has been long overdue.
“The NFNC Act of 1967 in its current form does not support the attainment of optimal nutrition status for all Zambians, and until its recent review, has never been repealed since its adoption in 1967.
“We urge that this be of high priority and the bill should be presented to members of parliament for deliberations as soon as the house begins to sit,” he said.
Mr Chileshe said that the country faced a challenge in the form of obesity and overweight which has subsequent disease burden such as hypertension and heart conditions that was on the rise currently at 23% in women, hence calling for a concrete plan to improve nutrition needs.
He has also urged the Government to reinstate the currently suspended Statutory Instrument (SI) No.48 of 2006 ‘The Code of marketing of breast milk Substitutes’ explaining that the country had no way of regulating marketing practices of breast milk supplements some of which posed a serious health risk to infants who required exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.
Mr Chileshe said that the incorporation of nutrition into existing programmes particularly agricultural policies would have the most impact in assuring both food and nutrition security.
He said the Zambian Government would next year be represented at the 2017 Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit which would provide a platform for world leaders to make faster, higher and stronger nutrition commitments.