26 April 2018

Zambia: Investing in Nutrition a Priority - Lungu

President Edgar Lungu says Zambia has made strides in investing in nutrition interventions that are crucial to reducing the disease burden and deaths as a result of malnutrition.

The President has also called for concerted efforts to help reverse growing levels of over-nutrition, especially among women in the childbearing age group which has resulted in a rise in lifestyle diseases.

Mr Lungu said Government placed priority on nutrition because this was important to attaining a healthy and productive population which would drive development.

"Good nutrition provides socio-economic dividends through the sustenance of valuable human resource needed to achieve our sustainable development goals and our aspirations for a prosperous middle income country by 2030," he said.

He said this in a speech read for him by Vice-president Inonge Wina at the launch of the National Food and Nutrition Summit.

Mr Lungu said among other interventions the Government introduced an e-voucher system to enable small scale farmers access inputs and grow into viable large scale food production chains that would contribute to food security at household and national levels.

He said the Government had also integrated efforts among various ministries to ensure access to diversified food which was key to good health and improved productivity in the nation.

"It is easier to focus in under-nutrition and forget the emerging and equally big problem of over-nutrition, which leads to obesity, " Mr Lungu said.

The President called for a cultural shift to bring together nutritionists, lawmakers, fitness coaches, the church and other stakeholders to reverse overweight and obesity which caused diseases like cancer and hypertension.

Health Minister hailed the Government for the continued support towards the multi-sectoral approach in providing good nutrition among Zambians.

Community Development Minister Emelyn Kabanshi said line ministries would corroborate efforts in implementing nutrition sensitive measures to fight all forms of malnutrition in the country.

African Development Bank (ADB) representative Mary Monyau called for stronger and innovative funding to nutrition and this should be backed by accountability among spending departments to ensure significant gains on the affected communities.

United Nations (UN) assistant Secretary General Gerda Verburg called on the Government to enforce deliberate policies that accelerate access to nutrition, saying investing in young children's nutrition was the best investment that could ever be made in the life of a human being.

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