Freedom from hunger and malnutrition is a basic human right. And good nutrition is a basic building block of human capital and as a result contributes to economic growth.
Therefore, any efforts geared towards the alleviation of malnutrition are fundamental prerequisite for human development.
It is in the news that the deputy executive director at National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), Malang Fofana has raised the alarm that The Gambia is experiencing the 'triple burden of malnutrition', whereby under-nutrition, over-nutrition and micronutrient deficiency co-exist.
Fofana made this disclosure on Wednesday during the launch of the Nutrition Week. The Nutrition Week, which is celebrated annually, is aimed at creating public awareness on the importance of healthy eating and adoption of desirable behaviours to address malnutrition in The Gambia.
Going by his assertion, the country needs to do more to address the issue of malnutrition. The prevalence of malnutrition, under-nutrition, over-nutrition and micronutrient deficiency could seriously undermine or retard our development.
However, this campaign should also serve as a reminder for people to embrace healthy food and lifestyle-choices as well as eating habits to live a healthier life.
We've seen countries within the sub-region and even beyond, where persistent malnutrition has contributed to the failure in meeting their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, thus achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equity, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, among others.
We must admit the fact that nutrition is a crucial component of any development plan and should be made central to development to pave a way for a wide range of economic and social improvements.
Even though The Gambia has made some significant gains in reducing under-nutrition, a lot more needs to be done to curtail this emerging threat.
It is really disheartening to note that nutrition is said to be the single most important contributor to child mortality and leads to a significant loss in human and economic potential.
We need to invest in the country's nutrition sector. Also, there is a need to break the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition, by placing particular emphasis on intervening from conception to the first two years of the child's life.
This will not only empower the child's life, but that of the mother as well. Government and partners should also invest more in supporting disadvantaged families by providing them with food supplies to alleviate their daily sufferings.
"Hunger and malnutrition have devastating consequences for children and have been linked to low birth weight and birth defects, obesity, mental and physical health problems, and poorer educational outcomes. "