16 January 2014

Tanzania: Business Challenged On Combating Under-Nutrition

THE government will continue working closely with the business community in fighting under-nutrition in the country which affects millions of Tanzanians, especially children, the Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office, Dr Florens Turuka, has said.

Dr Turuka made the pledge in Dar es Salaam during a meeting on partnership with business to address under-nutrition in the country.

He said the private sector had played a crucial role to support Tanzanians in addressing the issue, which affects a child's mental and physical development.

"We need to put our efforts to addressing the issue that affects women and children in the country due to lack of education," he said.

Dr Turuka added the government planned to set targets in the National Nutrition Strategies (NNS) targeting to reduce the prevalence of stunting in children aged 0-59 months by 15 per cent and wasting below 5 per cent by 2015.

"We are also targeting to increase the prevalence of exclusive breast-feeding in children less than 6 months from 50 per cent to 60 per cent by 2015," he said.

He added that micro-nutrition deficiencies were high among women of child-bearing age with 36 per cent iodine deficiency, 30 per cent iron deficiency and 37 per cent vitamin A deficiency.

In addition the government targeted to reduce the prevalence of anaemia among pregnant women from 48.4 per cent to 35 per cent by 2015.

According to Dr Turuka, the plan would be successful if all stakeholders put efforts together in order to address the issue which affects many children in the country.

For his part, the Director of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Mr Matt Freeman, said in order to address under-nutrition in the country the government and other stakeholders had to increase awareness on nutrition within the business community.

"GAIN partners with business, governments, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, academia and other key players in the nutrition sector to deliver programmes to vulnerable populations as efficiently and effectively as possible in order to address under-nutrition in the world," he said.

Under-nutrition remains a huge challenge in the country, with the prevalence of stunting of children aged under 5 remaining at 42 per cent. It is also estimated that under-nutrition is a significant cost to the Tanzanian economy, resulting in losses of 2.65 per cent each year.

Although there is a slow decreasing trend of malnutrition at the national level, the prevalence of stunting is very high in all five survey conducted areas in Tanzania (around 40 per cent). A similar slow decreasing trend was observed for underweight and wasting nutrition indicators.

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