Lilongwe — Despite Malawi registering a success story in addressing malnutrition, the country still has a challenge of addressing overweight and obesity which are on the rise especially among women and children.
Overweight and obesity can bme a result of overnutrition, random genetic abnormalities, heredity and lifestyle including environmental causes.
Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi told journalists on the sidelines of the launch of the National Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Policy and Strategic Plan and official opening of the International Food and Nutrition Research Dissemination Conference which was presided over by the First Lady Madame Gertrude Mutharika at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe on Wednesday.
According to rankings produced by the United Kingdom Institute of Development Studies in collaboration with the New Partnership for African Development, Malawi is ranked second among 45 African countries that seem to be doing well in fighting malnutrition.
The minister said overweight and obesity contribute to nutrition related non communicable diseases (NCDs) which are significant causes of morbidity and mortality in the country.
"It is extremely important to acknowledge that there is a lot to be done. We need to step up behavioural change interventions with relation to obesity and overweight. These are issues that we need to decisively deal with," said Muluzi.
According to the National Nutrition Policy identification and management of nutrition related NCDs are not regularly done and the preventive measures for overweight and obesity are also not adequately met at the community and facility level.
Muluzi said nutrition remains a central pillar in the development agenda and such needs to be given the much needed support that it requires in order to eradicate all forms of malnutrition and overnutrition.
He, therefore, called for all stakeholders to work together in the fight against malnutrition in order to have a Malawi which is nutrition oriented.
"Everyone else needs to be involved in nutrition issues. Working together we can achieve so much more," he said.
The First Lady described nutrition as a sustainable ingredient for the country's national development agenda which needs coordinated and multi-sectoral approach.
She said despite Malawi registering significant improvement in nutrition, stunting levels remain high and this needs to be addressed with urgency.
The policy which runs from 2018 -- 2022 serves to redirect the national focus on nutrition programming and to realign the national nutrition priorities with the development agenda.
It is intended to provide guiding framework for the successful implementation of the national nutrition response, address the existing and emerging national and global issues and uphold governments commitment towards eliminating all forms of malnutrition.
It serves as a guiding document for national nutrition stakeholders including government, civil society, faith based organisations, academia, the private sector and development partners.
Government developed the first National Nutrition Policy in 2007 whose overall goal was to have a well nourished nation with sound human resource that effectively contributes to the economic growth and prosperity.
The policy that has been launched, renews government's commitment and strategic response to nutrition related issues by reviewing the National Nutrition Policy which is multi-sectoral and covers both nutrition and nutrition-sensitive interventions.