Ministry of Health under the department of Nutrition HIV/AIDS has asked government and Non-Governmental officials to engage different stakeholders in the country to reduce stunting among children in the country.
Chief Nutrition Officer in the department Kondwani Mpenuwawa made the request during a 4 day Trainer of Trainers workshop that was held at Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre where the government and private sector officials were trained on effective ways to combat stunting in Malawi, which ranks the highest among Sub-Sahara Africa with 42% micro-nutrients deficiency in 2014.
“The objective of this trainer of trainers workshop is trying to harmonize the materials at the community level in terms of training the Care Group structures, so we have called upon officials from the government side as well as Non Government Organizations which have been implementing care group model in the community and various districts to adopt these care groups in the country,” said Mpenuwawa
He said the first days in life are very important and growth of a child can be impeded if not taken care of during these days.
“To prevent stunting and its effects in our children we need to unite with Scaling Up Nutrition(SUN) 1000 special days Movement. This is a national wide initiative to increase the scope of action in nutrition. The focus of the SUN 1000 Special Days Campaign is in 13 effective interventions to minimize stunting if implemented during the first 1000 days of life.”
“These days start when a woman has just conceived, so from that conception to delivery, it takes around 270 days and you also add up to the next two years after delivery which is 730 days, so if you add the first 270 days of pregnancy period and 730 days for two years will make 1000 critical days in child development. So as a country, we have adopted the ways to reduce stunting levels in the country by increasing nutrition levels to the children. In short I can say SUN 1000 Special Days is a window of opportunity to reduce stunting in Malawi,” he said.
The officer also added that the 1000 special days campaign is identified as the best way to ensure that the nutrition education and strategy fulfills the stakeholders expectations for launching a national movement that will move Malawi towards National Aspiration of Malnutrition Free Generation.
Asked how this campaign will be implemented Mpenuwawa said; “we will go to the communities and we will form the groups of 10 members each and it will be called a Cluster, with a Cluster Leader who will be reporting to a care group promoter if the children among these members are facing any growth challenges. Car group promotors will then report the problem to the government at a district level,” he concluded.
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes stunted growth as a process of failure to reach linear growth potential as a result of suboptimal health and/or nutritional conditions. On a population basis, high levels of stunting are associated with poor socioeconomic conditions and increased risk of frequent and early exposure to adverse conditions such as illness and/or inappropriate feeding practices. A decrease in the national stunting rate is usually indicative of improvements in overall socioeconomic conditions of a country.