Save the Children and Civil Society Nutrition Alliance (CSONA) Engages Parliamentary Committee on Nutrition
Save the Children in collaboration with the Civil Society Nutrition Alliance (CSONA) on Wednesday, 17 June 2015 engaged members of the Parliamentary HIV/AIDS and Nutrition Committee over dinner to sensitise them on the nutrition situation in Malawi and rally their support towards addressing alarming rates of malnutrition in the country.
Speaking during the event held at the Umodzi Park in Lilongwe, Save the Children Malawi Country Director Matthew Pickard called on members of the Parliamentary Committee on HIV/AIDS and Nutrition to be nutrition champions both in and outside Parliament so that nutrition is high on the political agenda and the high rates of malnutrition are reversed.
He said while the Malawi national anthem talks about fighting three national enemies, hunger, disease and envy, high levels of stunting among Malawian children under the age of five shows that the nation is not making headways in the fight against hunger. The national stunting rate is at 42% according to the 2014 Malawi MDGs Endline Survey. However, according to the Malawi Demographic Health Survey 2010, most districts in the country have stunting rates hovering above 50%.
“It was important to take note as well as commend the Malawi Government towards the progress made in addressing malnutrition so far, vis a vis the SUN initiative. However the progress is slow. It is possible to reverse malnutrition, with the right leadership, right investments and right resources. I urge you all to take the malnutrition issue heavy on your hearts as it is something that negatively impacts the people you represent in parliament.”
Making a presentation at the event, National Coordinator of CSONA, Tisungeni Zimpita said malnutrition has a lasting effect on the mental and physical development of children and reducing stunting has both social and economic benefits.
Zimpita said the Malawi government made seven commitments at the 2013 Nutrition for Growth Summit in London which if implemented properly will change the status of nutrition in the country. She said Members of Parliament have a role to ensure that government keeps its word in implementing the commitments.
The commitments include increasing nutrition allocation in the national budget from 0.1% in 2013 to 0.3% of the national budget by 2020, develop and enact a Nutrition Act by 2016 and review the National Nutrition Policy by 2014.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary HIV/AIDS and Nutrition Committee Honourable Deus Gomba-Banda said the meeting was an eye opener to the MPs about the extent of malnutrition in the country and its effects on both children and adults. He committed to start looking at nutrition with renewed vigour by being vigilant in the review of the national budget so that nutrition is well resourced.
Written by Elvis Sukali – Senior Manager-Advocacy, Knowledge Management and Communications