14 December 2012

Tanzania: Task Force to Address Rampant Malnutrition

THE government has formed a Social, Behavioural Change Communication Consultative Committee (SBCC) to advise on how the country can scale up nutrition, amid reports that under-nutrition contributes to about 130 children deaths a day in the country.

Tanzania, according to recent studies, continues to suffer from one or more forms of under-nutrition including low birth weight, wasting, vitamin A deficiency, iodine deficiency disorders, stunting and anaemia. But the committee will have a heavy task in dealing with the stunting problem experienced in many regions country-wide.

The problem afflicts 42 per cent of children in some regions. Launching the committee yesterday, the Nutrition Focal Person in the Prime Minister's Office, Ms Sarah Mshiu, said that stunting, which affects the growth of a child for the rest of his or her life keeps growing.

Anaemia, she said, is still a threat that affects 59 per cent of children aged six to 59 months. "The SBCC being one of the strategies will put behaviour and social norms at the centre of design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of nutritional intervention," she said.

The Behavioural Change Communication, she said, will thus be intensified in order to raise the visibility and profile of malnutrition at all levels and increase the commitment and resources for its alleviation. According to the Focal Person, the SBCC National Consultative Committee aims at foreseeing interventions and the development of a national SBCC Strategy Implementation Plan and budget.

The Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre Managing Director, Mr Benedict Jeje, said that the Committee has come at the right time when the country has slightly managed to reduce the effects of under-nutrition from 48 per cent in 1992 to around 41 per cent now.

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