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‘focus on disease prevention rather than cure’

KABANDA CHULU, Tshwane, South Africa
AFRICAN governments should focus more on prevention measures than fighting diseases that come with malnutrition, University of Pretoria Professor Hettie Schonfeldt has said.
Making a presentation to regional journalists attending a media training for food security policy on Wednesday, Prof Schonfeldt said it is more costly to cure than to prevent diseases that result from the condition of malnutrition.
She cited a 2013 World Health Organisation(WHO) survey, which estimated that 6.5 million children under the age of five globally, and 2.9 million of them in Africa, died due to malnutrition, which is an equivalent of five children under the age of five dying every minute.
“Also, the Global Nutrition Report for 2016 estimates that out of the 667 million children under the age of five worldwide, 159 million are too short for their age [stunted], 50 million do not weigh enough for their height [wasted] and 41 million are overweight [obese].”
“This is an unacceptable, and we have to do something as governments because it is more costly to our economies to cure illnesses that come with malnutrition, which is preventable through dietary means,” Prof Schonfeldt said.
She also urged the private sector and communities to fully participate in the fight against malnutrition.
“The malnutrition problem should not only be the sole responsibility of governments and nutritionists but advocacy should be embraced at all levels, including the media and the private sector, which should include nutritional benefits of their products in their advertised messages.”
“We also need to re-enforce nutrition learning by making it compulsory in school curriculum at all levels. This will help communities choose products that are rich in nutrition,” she said.
The media training programme is hosted by the University of Pretoria in collaboration with Michigan State University and the International
Food Policy Research Institute, aimed at analysing the drivers of change in the food security arena, with a specific emphasis on agriculture and nutrition policies.




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