LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)– The Civil Society Organization Nutrition Alliance (CSONA) has requested the Malawi Government to relocate the Department for Nutrition and HIV AIDS (DNHA) back to the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC), where it was well placed.
CSONA observed that if the DNHA is relocated to OPC the department will effectively carry out the coordination of nutrition programs than where it is now as part of the Ministry of Health is an implementing agency.
The nutrition body has further called the Government to swiftly process the Food and Nutrition Act to upscale stunting work among under-five children.
In a position paper presented on Friday, in the capital Lilongwe during the Global Day of Action, CSONA was still dejected with the insufficient funding for the department of HIV/AIDS and Nutrition is allocated, despite the alarming rate of stunting.
Under the theme, “Can we do it? Unlocking investments towards nutrition in Malawi,” the organization observed that funding for the department has been low despite the slight improvement in maternal and child nutrition in Malawi. The rate remains considerable high at 37% under-five children stunted.
The revelation highlights the daunting task and wake-up call for the nation to do more in averting the current situation.
The total annual costs associated with child under-nutrition are estimated at MK147 billion (US$597m), equivalent to 10.3 percent of GDP.
But the Malawi national budget does not meet that need despite commitment Government made during the Nutrition for Growth Summit in 2013, that requires it to increase the nutrition budget allocation from 0.1 to 0.3 by 2020.
“Government should show a steady annual increase in the public expenditure budget allocated to nutrition. This will be fulfillment of its Nutrition for Growth (N4G) promise to increase the proportion of total annual government expenditure.
“We are therefore appealing to the Members of Parliament (MPs) to call on Government to expedite the process on the the Food and Nutrition Act by 2017, based on commitment Government made in 2016,” said and CSONA official.
In his response, DNHA Chief Nutritionist Blessings Muwala, agreed with sentiments of low funding in his department, but was quick to appeal for consultative efforts for all players in the sector.
Muwala called on the public to start investing seriously in children’s nutrition health in a bid to arrest escalating stunting in Malawi.
“A society that nurtures malnutrition children, turns into an ungovernable community whose citizens fail to understand the concepts of life-cycle of their social-economic being,” observes Muwala.
The event attracted parliamentarians, health experts, chiefs, donors communities, civil society and the media joined together in a chorus and called for consultative efforts in heavy investment in nutrition to upscale the fight against stunting in the country.
According to the World Heath Organization (WHO) 2014 report, childhood stunting is one of the most significant obstacles to human development, that globally affecting approximately 162 million children under five years of age.
The 2015-2016 Malawi Housing Demographic Survey (MHDS), revealed that Malawi’s under-five stunting rate is at 37.1% and stunting contributes to 23% of under-five death.
However, the stunting rate remains higher compared to neighboring countries including Zimbabwe (28%, 2014) and Tanzania (35%, 2014).