KAGERA Regional Commissioner (RC), Major Gen Charles Mbuge has called for increased awareness on good nutrition as an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Equally, he urged residents, authorities and nutrition officers to cooperate to end malnutrition in the region.
"It is high time every person cooperates to realise the goal of malnutrition-free generation in Kagera.
He said without necessary action, children will remain at greater risk in the region, saying investing in nutrition is essential for Tanzania to progress, and that concerted efforts are still needed to ensure that hundreds of stunted children in Kagera Region are saved from the condition.
A recent initial baseline survey indicated that about 224,364 children aged below five in Kagera region are stunted. Minimum acceptable diet stood at 18.1 per cent compared to the national average of 30.3 per cent.
The rate of continued breastfeeding at two years stood at 44.4 per cent while the national average was 43.3 per cent. The rate of exclusive breastfeeding stood at 85 per cent and meal frequency per day stood at 55 per cent. Mr Mbuge explained that while some efforts have been made to reduce the rate of stunting from 41.7 per cent during 2015/16 to 39.8 per cent during 2019, more efforts were still needed.
"It is high time every person cooperates in order to realize the goal of malnutritionfree Kagera Region...without necessary action, children will remain at greater risk in the region," he said.
Kagera Regional Nutrition Officer, Yusuf Hamis, on the other hand, urged all stakeholders to join forces in fighting malnutrition and hidden hunger, noting that more efforts should be made to educate families, especially women, on the importance of breastfeeding and eating food varieties rich in micronutrients, proteins and vitamin A.
The region has enough food varieties, including bananas, beans and fisheries resources, notably from Lake Vitoria, and 14 satellite lakes, therefore food availability is not a problem.
Families should be educated on the best food varieties to eat on daily basis, he said. Kagera Region is among the areas with high rate of stunting among children below five years, which currently stands at 39.8 per cent while the national average stands at 34 per cent.
Other regions with high rate of stunting in brackets include Njombe (53.6 per cent), Iringa (47.1 per cent), Rukwa (47.9 per cent), Songwe (43.3 p.c.), Kigoma (42.3 p.c.) and Ruvuma (41.0 per cent). In 2015, more than 2.7 million Tanzanian children under five years of age were estimated to be stunted and more than 600,000 were suffering from acute malnutrition, of which 100,000 were severe cases.
There are huge variations in the nutritional status of children under 5 years of age. Ten regions account for 58 per cent of all stunted children and five regions account for half of the children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Tanzania.