Nutrition networks from across East Africa recently met in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania to Launch the Global Nutrition Report and chart a course for improved action on nutrition in the region. The event brought together an expected 40 participants from Scaling up Nutrition networks across Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.
Good nutrition is the Bedrock of Human well-being before birth and throughout infancy, it allows brain functioning to evolve without impairment and immune systems to develop more robustly. For young children, good nutrition status averts death and equips the body to grow and develop to its full potential. Over the course of the human lifespan, it leads to more effective learning at school, better-nourished mothers who give birth to better-nourished children, and adults who are likelier to be productive and earn higher wages. In middle age, it gives people metabolisms that are better prepared to ward off the diseases associated with changes in diet and physical activity. Without good nutrition, people’s lives and livelihoods are built on quicksand.
Across East African countries, stunting (short height for age due to chronic malnutrition) ranges from
1 in every 3 children to as high as 1 in every 2. Malnutrition has severe consequences on the survival and lifelong mental and physical abilities of individuals, and also on national economies. Despite this massive challenge, resources to nutrition‐specific programs in East Africa amount to only a small fraction of national health budgets.
“We are facing a chronic emergency that will not wait for our attention. For the healthy future of our
Countries and communities, we must act now and encourage the governments of our region to make political and financial commitments that match the scale of the challenge set before us,” said Dr.
Aristide Madagasha of the Burundi Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Network (SUN CSN).
“It has been ascertained that undernutrition levels lower Uganda’s national GDP by 5.6% and found that Uganda is one of the 47 countries in the World that have overlapping under five stunting, Anemia in Women of reproductive age and adult over weight according to indicator data from Unicef, WHO and World Bank”. Said Christine Muyama the National Coordinator, Uganda Scaling Up Nutrition.
She further added that even with the government’s intervention to scale up nutrition, malnutrition still remains high in the country, “hence the government is considering drafting a policy to address malnutrition as it is one of the major causes of deaths in children under five years”. emphasised Christine.
She explained that relying on communication received from the Prime Minister’s office, the government intends to enforce this policy by ensuring that each household grows food stuff not just for commercial purposes but also for home consumption.
Launched globally last year, the Global Nutrition Report is the first report to compile comprehensive data on the status of nutrition around the world, highlighting progress in combating malnutrition, identifying gaps, and proposing solutions. Participants in the East Africa launch compared the report’s findings to the region’s status, and are to plan action to ensure East African governments increase commitment and accountability for nutrition.
“Most East African countries are not on track to meet globally‐agreed World Health Assembly targets on nutrition. In just one year the global community will come together at the second Nutrition for Growth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2016 to take stock of global progress. The East African community must make new and ambitious financial and political commitments to ensure we do not fall behind in efforts to defeat malnutrition,” said Dr. Million Shibeshi of the Ethiopia Civil Society Coalition ‐ Scaling up Nutrition (ECSC‐SUN).