Civil Society Nutrition Alliance (Csona) wants Parliament to fast-track the tabling and passing of the Nutrition Bill that seeks to be a legislative guide to get rid of malnutrition challenges in the country.
Csona national coordinator Bessie Ndovi in an interview said among other challenges, the country is still grappling with the burden of malnutrition such as child stunting (at 37 percent), wasting (at three percent) and underweight (at 11.7 percent).
She said Csona believes that although there is an increase in the budgetary allocation to nutrition interventions in the 2020/21 National Budget, passing of the Bill is key to solving some of the challenges.
Said Ndovi: “Nutrition is a global challenge which has for many years been neglected and wrongly perceived as only a health issue. There is compelling evidence generated economically which shows that eliminating malnutrition can have huge economic gains.
“Malawi made a commitment to enact a Nutrition Act by 2016 at the London Nutrition for Growth Summit in 2013, the Bill is still in draft form and yet to go to Parliament for consideration. We urge Parliament to fast-track and pass the Bill.”
According to the cost of hunger study for Malawi, poor nutrition in early life results in low cognitive ability, low education attainment, poor immunity to infections, elevated risk of acute and chronic diseases as well as increased healthcare costs.
Responding to some of the issues, chairperson for HIV, Aids and Nutrition Cluster Committee Deus Gumba acknowledged that the country is still facing challenges in the nutrition sector.
He pledged that he will ensure his committee pushes for passing of the Bill into law.
Said Gumba: “As a committee, our role will be to track the Bill. We understand that it is still at Cabinet level and as I am speaking, the Bill is ready to come to the floor and it will be passed.”
In his State of the Nation Address, President Lazarus Chakwera recognised the importance of enacting the Bill, which was drafted four years ago.
The Bill seeks to fulfill Malawi’s international commitment to promote the right to food by prescribing what people should eat in public institutions such as hospitals and prisons, among others.
It also reinforces the Gebo Masangano judgement on minimum dietary requirements for inmates.