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Mozambique, 28 August 2014: UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo visits health clinic in Moamba

© UNICEF Mozambique/2014/Alexandre Marques

28 August 2014, Maputo Taking time off her busy performing schedule in Maputo, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo spent a day at a health clinic in Moamba this Thursday, meeting with mothers and children and learning about the challenges they face in their everyday lives.

“Mozambique’s economy is booming, and yet far too many children are not developing to their full potential because of chronic malnutrition,” said Ms. Kidjo. “The children are the future of this country, when we invest in children, we invest in our own future.”

About 43% of children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition in Mozambique, one of the highest rates in the world, despite strong economic performance and robust progress recorded in other areas related to child health, most notably child mortality, which has decreased substantially in the past decade. 

Stunting develops between conception and the age of 2 and, once developed, cannot be corrected.  This early growth failure causes increased child mortality and decreases brain development and thus constrains learning and future productivity of those children.

The causes of stunting in Mozambique include insufficient and inadequate nutrition, high incidence of infections, and in particular diarrhoea, malaria and intestinal parasites, teenage pregnancy and inadequate breastfeeding or weaning practices. Diets are often not varied enough, leading not only to slow growth but also micronutrient deficiencies, leading for example to high incidence of anaemia.

The underlying causes are related to food insecurity, in particular low access to and use of foods with high nutrient content, to the high incidence of poverty and to low female literacy and empowerment.

“This is a complex problem, and not one that can be solved in a day, that’s for sure,” said Ms Kidjo. “I am happy to see UNICEF supporting government and Mozambican civil society to make sure changes happen on the ground. I applaud the Government for its commitment to the wellbeing of its children and the admirable progress that has been achieved, despite all the challenges, but more can be done to ensure children develop to their full potential.”

UNICEF has supported the Government in Mozambique in developing a Multisectoral Action Plan for the Reduction of Chronic Undernutrition, coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture with close involvement of the Secretariat for Food and Nutritional Security (SETSAN), relevant line ministries, non governmental organisations, donors and development partners.  The plan has an overall objective to reduce stunting among children under 5 years of age to 30% by 2015, and 20% by 2020. UNICEF is also supporting in the promotion of infant and young child feeding practices in the communities for the prevention of stunting.

For more information, please contact:

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, gpereira@unicef.org

 

 
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