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Survey shows sharp drop in childhood stunting in Tanzania

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, 10 April 2015 – The results of a National Nutrition Survey released in Tanzania show that between 2010 and 2014, chronic malnutrition – stunting, or low height for age – among children under five in the country fell from 42 per cent to 35 per cent.

"Undernutrition, and especially stunting, is one of the silent crises for children in Tanzania," said UNICEF Representative in Tanzania Dr Jama Gulaid. "Malnutrition has severe consequences. It blunts the intellect, saps the productivity of everyone it touches and perpetuates poverty. The success we are celebrating today is due to increased political commitment and improved coordination mechanisms for nutrition since 2011.”

In 2011, Tanzania became a key partner in the major global initiative called the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, which is bringing much needed focus and investment for nutrition in a number of countries. President Jakaya M. Kikwete became a member of the high-level international SUN Lead Group and played a key role in the promotion of the nutrition agenda at the international level and in Tanzania.

“These results are very encouraging. The hidden crisis of chronic malnutrition is robbing thousands of our children of their full potential and hampering the social and economic progress of Tanzania”, said Mr. Obey Assery, SUN Focal Person for Tanzania.

The Government of Tanzania launched a five-year National Nutrition Strategy (2011-2016) with an Implementation Plan which guides actions by ministries, departments, agencies and local government authorities, as well as development partners.

The Government is also tracking investments in nutrition. In 2014, The Ministry of Finance conducted the first Public Expenditure Review of the nutrition sector and first Joint Multi-sectoral Review of Nutrition analysing the implementation of the first three years of the National Nutrition Strategy.

“Despite the achievements, child malnutrition remains an important challenge in Tanzania. All of us here in the country – government, communities, UNICEF and others – must redouble our efforts to combat this problem,” Dr Gulaid added.

According to estimates, Tanzania still has more than 2.7 million children under five who are stunted. More than 430,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition. Among these are some 100,000 diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition, which means they have a high risk of dying if they do not receive appropriate treatment.

Stunting can permanently impair a child’s physical and cognitive development, trapping them into a cycle of poverty and inequity. The damage often leads to poorer school performance, leading to future income reductions of up to 22 per cent on average. As adults, they are also at increased risk of illness and disease.

The National Nutrition Survey was conducted in 2014 by the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Nutrition Unit of the Zanzibar Ministry of Health, with the technical and financial support of UNICEF, Irish AID and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).

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UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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For more information, please contact:

Sandra Bisin, UNICEF Dar es Salaam, Tel: +255 22 219 6634, Mobile: +255 787 600079,  sbisin@unicef.org

 


 

 

 

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