Global Nutrition Report highlights extremes in malnutrition across Africa?
A new Global Nutrition Report presented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) at the sixth Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security Conference in Kampala, Uganda, has raised concerns about the extremes of malnutrition that are being created across Africa. More than 58 million African children under the age of five are stunted as a result of malnutrition, according to the report. However, ten million children are also reported to be overweight as a result of unhealthy lifestyles. “We cannot continue like this,” said Prime Minister of Uganda, Ruhakana Rugunda (pictured above)??. “What we need to do is invest in our people, our nutrition, so that [people] are fully empowered to maximise their potential.” Speaking at the launch of the report, Prime Minister Rugunda, said Uganda loses about 16 percent of its GDP as a result of malnutrition. Despite these challenges, the report also reveals some positive signs of progress in tackling malnutrition. Kenya is on track to meet all five World Health Assembly child nutrition targets by 2025. Ghana is on course for four targets, while Uganda, Algeria, Benin, Liberia and Swaziland are on course for three. The World Health Assembly targets cover the critical indicators of under-five stunting, wasting and obesity, breastfeeding, anemia among women of reproductive age, and low birth weight. Prime Minister Rugunda also highlighted the importance of focusing on the first 1,000 days of life, one of the main focuses of the new Uganda Nutrition Action Plan 2015-2019. On behalf of the FAO Regional Office for Africa, Dr Mohamed Ag Bendech, Senior Nutrition Officer and member of the Independent Expert Group behind the report, said African governments should commit to advancing nutrition by building politically enabling environments, ensuring interventions reach those that need them, creating healthy food environments, increasing funding, and strengthening accountability. “As a continent we must push for increased momentum in cutting rates of stunting, wasting and other forms of malnutrition such as anemia and vitamin A deficiency,” said Dr Bendech.
 
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by Adam Pitt
Photo: Kwamerugunda