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Nutritionists call for improved diets to save lives

SYLVESTER CHISHIMBA, Lusaka
Under-nutrition is the cause of deaths of 53 percent of under-five children who die in Zambia, CSO-SUN Alliance country coordinator William Chilufya has said.
Mr Chilufya said improving the nutritional status of children and their mothers would significantly reduce child mortality.
“Good nutrition saves lives, and if the achievement of this MDG to reduce child mortality is to be through development, there must first of all be an improvement in child nutritional status. Programmes to improve household food security and nutrition information increase children’s chances of growing to adulthood.” he said.
Mr Chilufya said this in a statement released after appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Community Development and Social Services in Lusaka last wee.
He said Zambia’s current nutritional status is a key indicator of poverty, poor health, inadequate education and social conditions.
“Poorly fed children cannot grow and develop properly, resist infections or learn to their full potential. Malnourished adults are less capable of performing at work and are severely disadvantaged in terms of their social and economic security,” he said.
Mr Chilufya said Zambia cannot realistically address the crisis of under-nutrition without urgently increasing the availability of qualified nutritionists.  He said Zambia has a limited number of trained nutritionists and dieticians to provide the necessary guidance in addressing the challenge.
He said nutrition is key in helping people living with HIV/AIDS and in mitigating the impact of the disease among affected household members.
“Good nutrition is not a cure, but it can slow the progression from HIV to  AIDS, it can help strengthen the immune system to fight off secondary infections, it can help people be more comfortable and productive for longer,” he said
Mr Chilufya also commended Government for launching the National Food and Nutrition Commission Strategic Plan 2011-2015 with multi-sector strategic direction on First 1000 Most Critical Days to prevent child stunting.
“In this programme, Government recognises that investing in well-tested, low-cost and effective nutrition interventions is one of the best effective strategies to save lives and enhance human development. This program has a potential to help Zambia achieve Millennium Developmental Goals,  he said.

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