Maputo — The Mozambican government launched on Thursday two initiatives intended to combat chronic malnutrition, particularly among children.
One of the initiatives, “One Minute of Nutrition”, will produce advertising spots, lasting for one minute, to be broadcast on radio and television.
The second, “mNutrition”, is a service of text and voice messages on healthy eating to be sent to mobile phones in the country's official language, Portuguese, but also in Shangaan, Sena and Macua, languages spoken in southern, central and northern Mozambique respectively.
Budgeted at 250,000 US dollars, the main partners of the Health Ministry in these initiatives are the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the Dutch Embassy.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Health Minister Nazira Abdula recognized the seriousness of chronic malnutrition (which is estimated to affect 43 per cent of Mozambican children under the age of five). She urged Mozambican citizens to take advantage of all opportunities to spread educational messages about nutrition.
Abdula stressed the role of the media in divulging messages about nutrition. Informing Mozambican families of the importance of breastfeeding, and guiding them about the nutritional value of various foodstuffs, using local languages, is a way of ensuring that the message reaches all women, she added.
It was a gargantuan task, Abdula said. “There are very few of us to meet these challenges of education and of social and behavioural change concerning nutrition, and so we should not waste any moment, any opportunity to speak, to inform and to educate about nutrition”.
Particularly important was to change the dietary habits of mothers, said Abdula, particularly with regard to breastfeeding their children, and when and how they should add other foods to their babies' diet.
The Mozambique director of GAIN, Katia Santos Dias, said that through nutrition initiatives it was hoped to reduce the rate of chronic malnutrition among children to 30 per cent within “some years”.
She told reporters that among the factors leading to chronic malnutrition were premature pregnancies and gender inequality.
“In a joint effort, let us all contribute to the reduction of chronic malnutrition in Mozambique and to a more productive future”, she said.