Nutrition

The situation

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The situation

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Tanzania made significant progress in improving nutrition among children under 5 years of age.

During the period 1992–2015, there was a tangible reduction in the number of underweight children and in those suffering from chronic malnourishment. However, despite these gains, concerns persist regarding the high rates of stunting among children and the stark disparities in nutritional status.

Given the importance of nutrition in the overall physical and cognitive development of children, there is a need to focus on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life to prevent the negative effects of malnutrition from becoming irreversible. This requires a multi-pronged approach to address risk factors ranging from inadequate food and illness to poor access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. High rates of anaemia and low body mass index among adolescent girls and pregnant women are also causes of concern.

Investing in nutrition is essential for Tanzania to progress. It is estimated that the country will lose US$20 billion by 2025 if the nutrition situation does not improve. In contrast, by investing in nutrition and improving the population's nutritional status, the country could gain up to US$4.7 billion by 2025.
 

Progress

  • Significant progress was made in the nutritional status of children under 5 years of age between 1992 and 2015. Stunting or chronic malnutrition decreased from 50 to 34 per cent, acute malnutrition from 7 to 5 per cent and underweight from 24 to 14 per cent.
     
  • Children under 6 months who were breastfed exclusively increased significantly in Tanzania, from 29 to 59 per cent between 1996 and 2015.
     
  • Anaemia among children aged 6 months to 5 years decreased from 72 per cent in 2005 to 59 per cent in 2010.
     
  • The coverage of Vitamin A supplementation among children aged 6 months to 5 years rose from 46 per cent in 2005 to 72 per cent in 2014.
     
  • The proportion of households using adequately iodized salt increased from 47 to 61 per cent between 2010 and 2015.
     
  • Qualified nutrition officers have been appointed in all districts and regions of Tanzania.
     
  • Tools are in place to track progress in scaling-up nutrition interventions such as quarterly scorecards, annual nutrition reviews, bi-annual national nutrition surveys and public expenditure reviews of the nutrition sector every three years.
     
  • Average spending on nutrition at local government level has increased from TZS 65 million to TZS 125 million between fiscal years 2011/12 and 2015/16.
     

Challenges

  • In 2015, more than 2.7 million Tanzanian children under 5 years of age were estimated to be stunted and more than 600,000 were suffering from acute malnutrition, of which 100,000 were severe cases.
     
  • There are huge variations in the nutritional status of children under 5 years of age. Ten regions account for 58 per cent of all stunted children and five regions account for half of the children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Tanzania. All three forms of undernutrition are higher among children from the poorest quintile than the richest quintile and higher among boys than girls.
     
  • Progress on various indicators has been either stagnant or has slipped.
     
  • Coverage of vitamin A supplementation among children aged 6 months to 5 years decreased from 72 to 41 per cent between 2014 and 2015.
     
  • Anaemia among women aged 15–49 years reduced slightly over a decade being 48 per cent in 2004 and 45 per cent in 2015, while anaemia amongst children aged 6 months to 5 years has barely changed from 59 per cent in 2010 to 58 per cent in 2015.
     
  • The prevalence of low body mass index among girls aged 15–19 years remained unchanged between 2010 and 2015 (approximately 18 per cent).
     
  • There are high rates of anaemia among women (45 per cent overall). Fifty-seven per cent of pregnant women and 46 per cent of breastfeeding mothers are anaemic.
     
  • Key high-impact interventions such as the promotion of infant and young child feeding practices and management of severe acute malnutrition are underfunded, resulting in inadequate coverage.
     
  • There is insufficient capacity to generate timely and reliable nutrition data. Reporting tools are not harmonized and new technologies for data generation are insufficiently applied.

 

 
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