Graça Machel applauds Namibia for strong commitment to scale up nutrition and urges Parliamentarians and Civil Society to accelerate action
© UNICEF Namibia/2012/Manuel Moreno Gonzalez
Mrs. Graça Machel visited a maternity ward where she witnessed a new born baby being registered and immediately given a birth certificate before being discharged from hospital.
Namibia, Windhoek, 22 November 2012 - As her 3 day visit to Namibia came to a close today, child and women’s rights Advocate Mrs. Graça Machel welcomed commitments by Namibian government and partners to rid the country of the scourge of Malnutrition. Mrs. Machel commended the initiatives taken by the Government of Namibia to establish the Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN), a multi-sectoral forum, led by the Rt. Hon Prime Minister Nahas Angula.
In a meeting with Mrs. Machel on Tuesday, the President of the Republic of Namibia, Hifikepuke Pohamba reaffirmed the government´s and his personal commitment to address malnutrition and other obstacles affecting the fulfillment of children’s rights. Later at a special meeting with Parliamentarians, this pledge was echoed by the cabinet ministers, Governors, regional councils and civil society organizations, who pledged to work across the country to reduce malnutrition rates by 2 per cent every year.
In a country where one in every three under 5 year old children are too short for their age and 1 in 5 are too thin for their age, children born in poor families have a threefold risk of being stunted or malnourished compared to those born in the rich families; hence Mrs. Machel highlighted the need for urgent action by Parliamentarians and all stakeholders.
“Parliamentarians have a critical role to play in consolidating the economic gains made by the country to change the lives of children and women in Namibia,” said Graça Machel. “Members of the Parliament can make a difference individually and collectively by advocating and communicating the urgency to reduce malnutrition and stunting in households, communities, and the nation at large.”
Speaking at a special dinner hosted by the government of Namibia, the Prime Minister Mr. Nahas Angula reiterated his unwavering commitment as the convener of the Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN) to make malnutrition a history in Namibia by 2030.
Despite its new Upper Middle Income Country status, Namibia still faces development challenges similar to those in poorer Least Developing Countries (LDCs). The country is one of the most unequal countries in the world with poverty and economic inequality attributed to historic legacies; HIV and AIDS; and, exacerbated by limited human and institutional capacity for effective response. Globally recognized as the early riser country in global Scaled Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, Namibia through NAFIN, is part of the 27 global leaders on nutrition, under the committed leadership of the Rt. Hon Prime Minister, who has been appointed by the UN Secretary General for this critical task. The challenge remains that more needs to be done to ensure that nutrition interventions are scaled and sped up at regional and constituency levels.
“We have witnessed the extraordinary commitment by Namibia in NAFIN – and subsequent endorsement of the Alliance by Cabinet - this has laid the foundation and has given us confidence in the country’s quest to fight malnutrition,” said the Mrs. Graça Machel “The world’s attention is on Namibia, and we must all be held accountable for success here as we seek to end malnutrition across the globe.”
During a field visit to Katutura Hospital in Windhoek’s largest suburban, Mrs. Graça Machel met mothers and pregnant women participating in the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV programme. She also visited the maternity ward where she witnessed a new born baby being registered and immediately given a birth certificate before being discharged from hospital. Mrs. Machel had dialogue with male and female adolescents living with HIV, on their dreams, hopes and challenges adolescents face in accessing health services across the country.
In a meeting with the Namibian Non-Governmental Forum (NANGOF) - the umbrella body of the civil society, 66 participants acknowledged that it was critical that they build alliances with the government, religious and traditional leaders to sustain the momentum created by NAFIN in scaling up nutrition at household and community levels.
“As Namibia is working to put nutrition at the heart of their development policies, it offers an opportune environment for collaboration and aligning support from international donors, private sector, civil society movements and even more so from communities,” said Micaela Marques De Sousa, UNICEF Representative. “This movement brings together a diverse group of stakeholders who share a common goal—improving maternal and child nutrition in Namibia”.
"The Government of Namibia knows what needs to be done to fight malnutrition in our country," said the Prime Minister Nahas Angula. "We need the commitment of all sectors of society to work together to implement a comprehensive approach that includes creating policies that will address the inequities that persist among regions, ethnic groups and wealth quintiles, combining the skills and resources we have for better and efficient allocation of resources where they are most needed.”
Namibia’s Response to Malnutrition
As a response to increasing malnutrition problems in Namibia, the Rt. Hon Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Namibia initiated the “Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition” (NAFIN) in 2009 with a vision to bring together different Government departments involved in nutrition and food security, the private sectors, NGOs and development partners.
The goal of NAFIN, which is multi-sectoral private public partnership forum, is to coordinate the activities of stakeholders in the field of nutrition and to serve as a clearing house for nutrition related outputs. The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) is the convener of NAFIN, officially approved by Cabinet in November 2010. NAFIN was launched by the Prime Minister on 8 December 2010.
In March 2011 cabinet issued an action letter approving a set of key nutrition actions to be implemented by different Government Departments. A meeting with 13 regional governors in August 2011 came up with a declaration by all Regional Governors to address malnutrition problems in their regions; and Namibia was accepted as one of the early riser countries in Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement in November 2011.
As part of the response to address malnutrition, the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) published in March 2011 a Strategic Plan for Nutrition 2011–2015. The plan has been prepared to assist Namibian health professionals in implementing best practices in nutrition. Strategic priorities of the Strategic Plan include Maternal and child nutrition, Micronutrient deficiencies, Diet-related diseases and lifestyles and Nutritional management of communicable diseases.
On 10 April 2012, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon appointed 27 world influential leaders, including the Rt. Hon Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Namibia, as SUN Lead Group to advance the strength and security of nations by improving maternal and child nutrition.
For further information, please contact:
Ms Judy Matjila, UNICEF Communications Specialist, Cell +264 811275963 or