Act now to restore children’s health
Malnutrition is responsible for the death of at least 6000 Namibian children annually, while many more start school with diminished capacity to learn due to iron, iodine and other micro-nutrient deficiencies, therefore children must become a priority says Prime Minister Nahas Angula.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Angula said children are the future and “the first call of our nation.”
He further said that the three most significant contributors to infant and child malnutrition are inappropriate infant and child feeding practices, the lack of exclusive breast feeding; poor caring practices, poor nutrition and the health status of mothers.
“Research has shown a direct link between malnutrition in childhood and chronic debilitating diseases during adulthood. Diseases such as diabetes, chronic heart disease and hypertension are strongly linked to malnutrition and lack of care during fetal life and the first three years of a child. Needles to say, the nation must act on this ‘hidden hunger’,” the premier said.
In 2010, the Office of the Prime Minister brought major stakeholders together in a bid to address the plight of malnourished children. These consultations resulted in the establishment of the National Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN). Its objectives are to reduce child mortality through improved maternal nutrition and health before and during pregnancies, to advocate for protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding, to support programmes of adequate complementary feeding using locally sourced foods, to campaign for the prevention of vitamin and micro-nutrient deficiencies and to monitor programmes for prevention and nutrition management of infections.
“Child nutrition is a responsibility for all of us. A healthy and competitive nation shall depend on the health status of its children. I therefore urge the Parliamentary Committee on Social Issues to join the National Alliance for Improved Nutrition. Parliament should advocate for improved maternal health and child well-being. In this regard, I am delighted that the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare is scaling up assistance to community early childhood development centres with the aim of improving children nutrition,” said Angula.
In the 2012/2013 national budget N$4 million has been allocated to the development of community early childhood development centres.
“I pray that the future budgets will support initiatives and programmes aimed at addressing the welfare of our children,” Angula concluded.S