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Tanzania, 10 April 2015: Survey shows remarkable improvement in child nutrition

News note

© UNICEF Tanzania/2014/Kate Holt
Women wait with their babies to be vaccinated and weighed at the Mwembeladu Maternity Home in Zanzibar , Tanzania Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

10 April 2015, DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania – A National Nutrition Survey released yesterday is showing a marked improvement in child nutrition in Tanzania.

Between 2010 and 2014, chronic malnutrition – stunting, or low height for age – among children under five was reduced from 42 per cent to 35 per cent.

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

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).

“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, Scaling Up Nutrition Focal Person for Tanzania, Prime Minister’s Office.

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. H.E. 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. The Government of Tanzania launched a National Nutrition Strategy for 2011-2016 and its Implementation Plan. It is also in reviewing the National Food Security and Nutrition Policy which is a key policy document for guiding actions to Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and Local Government Authorities, as well as development partners.

Nutrition is a complex matter. It needs responses – from all sectors that have an impact on nutrition, such as health, agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene, education, social protection and the private sector.

To enhance cooperation of various actors, the Government of Tanzania established a High-Level Steering Committee, based in the Office of the Prime Minister. The Government also put in place district Steering Committees for nutrition and promoted recruitment of nutrition officers in all the regions and districts of Tanzania. With the appointments, the government complemented the staff profile of regions, thus ensuring presence of someone with skills to provide leadership in implementation of the National Nutrition Strategy at sub-national level.

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 in Tanzania – government, communities, UNICEF and others – must redouble their efforts to combat this problem,” Dr. Jama Gulaid added.

According to estimates, today Tanzania has more than 2.7 million children under five years of age who are stunted. More than 430,000 children under five years have acute malnutrition. Of these, more than 100,000 suffer from severe acute malnutrition and have a high risk of dying if they do not receive appropriate intervention.

Stunting – or low height for age – traps people into a lifelong cycle of poor nutrition, illness, poverty and inequity. The damage to physical and cognitive development, especially during the first two years of a child’s life, is largely irreversible. A child’s poorer school performance results in future income reductions of up to 22 per cent on average. As adults, they are also at increased risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Proper nutrition helps give every child the best start in life.

 

 

 
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