23 May 2012

Tanzania: Centre Urges More Nutrition Education

THE lasting solution to nutrition related problems is difficult to be found because Tanzania has never conducted a survey on food consumption.

The Helen Keller International Senior Programme Officer, Ms Margret Benjamin, told the 'Daily News' during an advocacy strategy workshop on the promotion of Orange sweet potatoes to fight malnutrition that the absence of the surveys makes it difficult to draw up interventions.

"The only surveys that touch on nutrition are Demographic and Household Surveys (DHS)."These are, however, limited to macronutrients such as maize, millet, cassava and other staple foods and not micronutrients like orange sweet potatoes," she said.

Ms Benjamin said food consumption surveys would to a large extent go further where the DHS doesn't reach and help identify where people with different deficiencies are.She said that in spite of the expenses involved in conducting such surveys, the country had the capacity to conduct them; the only thing that was needed was commitment.

The Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) Assistant Research Fellow, Mr Mbilinyi Vitalis, said current statistics showed that only 27 per cent of the policies formulated in the country have been implemented.Mr Vitalis said that it was no secret that many policies have little or nothing related to nutrition yet it is a multisectoral issue.

He said the Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda, was recently forced to direct all ministries to amend their policies and incorporate nutrition issues."It is high time that nutritionists are given due recognition," he said.

He said it was saddening that the education policy has completely nothing on nutrition, yet one of the tasks of teachers was to teach children on the matter.

The Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre Managing Director, Mr Benedict Jeje, said the newly launched Orange Flesh Sweet Potato (OFSP) project was aimed at improving Vitamin A status of children aged from six to 59 months to reduce illnesses and mortality.Mr Jeje said that the OFSP programme was an initiative within the national control of micro-nutrition coordinated by TFNC.

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