NUTRITION and HIV/AIDS health service stakeholders have cited lack of coordination as one of the biggest challenges that causes the failure of many programmes in the sector.
The Acting Director of Preventive Services in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Mr Geoffrey Kiangi, said during a nutrition and HIV/AIDS workshop in Dar es Salaam that very creative programmes are devised but fail to reach the intended target.
"Yes, I agree that there is need to have innovative programmes but we should devise means on how these programmes actually reach the people that they are supposed to reach," he said. Mr Kiangi cited that the problem of lack of coordination and identification of who is doing what and where, is so big that, and that the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) report is testimony of that.
He narrated an incident when he was in a certain ward where there were close to ten stakeholders with similar programmes, yet no one knew the other and didn't even know how many people each were serving. He said that he was happy to see a broad spectrum of representation at the workshop comprising of participants from 16 districts of Singida, Arusha and Dodoma.
"I am pleased to see that nutrition is slowly being accorded the importance it deserves after being neglected for so long. Malnutrition is one of the most serious health problems we face affecting infants, children, people living with HIV/AIDS and women of reproductive age," he said.
Tanzania is currently being affected by a double burden of malnutrition, with a rising prevalence of over-nutrition alongside a high incidence of under-nutrition and is a major challenge. According to the 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey report, stunting or chronic malnutrition is 42 per cent for under five children, 5 per cent are wasted and 16 per cent are underweight.
Mr Kiangi said that the result also shows that 11 per cent of women are undernourished, a fact that needs to be taken very seriously in development efforts. The Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre Acting Managing Director, Mr Benedict Jeje, concurred that the country was being greatly challenged by lapses in coordination and supervision.
Mr Jeje said that over the years, there had been many achievements through partnership with other stakeholders in implementing several activities focusing on alleviation of malnutrition to People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) but lack of coordination watered them down.
"These activities include management of acute malnutrition using Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) in some of the regions, development of national guidelines, training manuals and various reader materials on nutritional care and support for PLHIV," he explained.
The two-day workshop aims at mapping out available stakeholders working on nutrition and HIV/AIDS at national and sub national level, discuss different experiences in management of acute malnutrition in the context of HIV/AIDS and sharing of experiences in implementing nutrition and HIV care and support services educational materials developed by various organisations.