Chief Mwansakombe of Samfya has revealed that the district records about 300 deaths per year closely linked to Malnutrition.
Chief Mwansakombe said his Chiefdom located in Samfya District in Luapula Province is one of the hardest hit areas with acute malnutrition.
He said as a traditional Leader, he has seen first-hand the consequences of Malnutrition in the communities where the problem of Malnutrition is rife.
Chief Mwansakombe was speaking in Lusaka during the Nutrition Forum Breakfast meeting organised by the Civil Society Organizations Scaling up Nutrition Alliance (CSO-SUN).
“Every year, nearly 300 deaths of Children can be traced to Malnutrition in Samfya District. These are children who should grow up to be the leaders of tomorrow. What’s more, Malnutrition is depriving families of the chance to rise out of poverty. Young women, who are malnourished, grow up to have malnourished children thereby continuing this vicious cycle. The solution to this problem is in our hands; and requires the combined efforts of the Nation as a whole,” Chief Mwansakombe said.
He said at the center of this problem is a lack of knowledge on issues to do with Nutrition in the communities.
“Our people are unaware of the problem of Malnutrition and its solutions. We need to change the mindset of our people in order to instill good Nutrition into their system. Our women need to have basic knowledge about exclusive breastfeeding for six months after giving birth, the importance of varying diets and adequate water and sanitation practices.,” he said.
He said traditional leaders have the unique position to influence legislation at Chiefdom level.
“In order to strengthen the fight against Malnutrition, we need stronger laws to combat bad practices that are adverse to Nutrition Development,” he said.
And officiating at the same event, Wife of Acting President Guy Scott, Charlotte said the Challenge of Malnutrition is one that is blatantly present in the country, with 40% of Zambia’s under five children being stunted, where stunting is low height for age, while 6% are acutely malnourished.
Ms. Scott said, “I have seen some progress from Government in addressing nutrition challenges in this country. These include a new National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFNC) Board, which is key in overseeing the work of the NFNC and increasing its accountability. The NFNC ACT is also under review.”
She continued, “I have followed the work of the CSO-SUN Alliance in raising the profile of nutrition in this country, and i must say they are doing a remarkable job. That is why my husband has been supportive of the work of CSO-SUN Alliance going by the many times he has participated in civil society nutrition related activities.”
She said it is encouraging to see stakeholders come together to complement efforts in tackling under-nutrition in Zambia adding that it is these coordinated and efforts from different stakeholders investing significantly in better nutrition that are required to address undernutrition effectively.
And Zambia Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition Alliance National Coordinator William Chilufya said poor nutrition is a challenge that casts a long shadow and its consequences flow throughout the life cycle and cascade down the generations affecting everyone— especially children, adolescent girls, and women.
“The faces of poor nutrition are many in this country from children living in poverty conditions who appear to be made of skin and bone, to adults who have trouble breathing owing to obesity, to infants who do not live to see their first birthday as a result of a combination of poor diets, poor infant feeding practices, and exposure to infectious disease,” he said.
He said, “ we are proud of our country and its intentions set for nutrition development, For instance As one of the first signatories of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, the Zambian government has committed to reducing chronic undernutrition by 50% in the next 10 years through a combination of local efforts and international support.”