By Kundai Marunya
Deputy Director of Nutrition in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Annscaria Chigumira revealed that the nation is suffering a high rate of stunting.
Addressing members of the media at a conference held in honor of the Global Day of Action at the Rainbow Towers Hotel on Friday, Chigumira said every one in three children is stunted.
“The major nutrition challenges in Zimbabwe are chronic malnutrition and micro-nutrient deficiencies.
“Nearly one is three children under the age of five is stunted (being too short for age),” she said.
She attributed stunting to lack of balanced meals.
“Nutrition goes beyond food availability, it is the end result of the food consumed, how it benefits the body’s health,” said Chigumira.
“It is of concern that foods consumed by most households lack diversity and are largely unbalanced with a clear dominance of carbohydrates over protein, fruits and vegetables.”
Chigumira however acknowledged the drop of stunting rates for those recorded in 2009.
“The stunting rate has fallen from 35 percent in 2009 to 27.6 percent in 2014, largely due to the promotion of integrated community health programs that the country is currently implementing,” she said.
“However more needs to be done to accelerate stunting reduction if the country is to meet the global World Health Assembly targets of 40 percent reduction by 2025.”
Meanwhile, Chigumira indicated another malnutrition health scare of overweight.
“Zimbabwe is also experiencing a double burden of malnutrition with increase in prevalence of overweight.
“A study in 2014 shows that about four percent of children under the age of five are overweight and 21 percent of women of child bearing age being overweight,” she added.
“Women in urban areas are more likely to be overweight than their rural counterparts.”
Chigumira further reviewed other malnutrition scares.
“Micronutrient deficiencies also remain a major public health problem according the latest micro-nutrient survey, nearly 32 percent of children under five and 26 percent of women of child bearing age are anaemic,” she said.
Anaemia is when one has fewer red blood cells than normal leading to a pale skin and weakness.
It is caused by lack of iron.
Chigumira reinforced the need of nutrition security so as to groom a healthy nation.
“Nutrition security is when all people at all times consume food to sufficient quantity and quality in terms of variety, diversity, nutrient content and safety to meet their dietary needs and food preference for an active healthy life, coupled with sanitary environment and adequate health services and care,” she said.