Zambia makes minimal progress in nutritional status

By Staff Reporter

Zambia Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition Alliance is happy with the progress Zambia has made over the last five years in reducing the high rates of stunting.

The Latest Zambia Health Demographic Survey launched yesterday shows that all the three nutritional status indices namely stunting, wasting and underweight have improved in the last five years.

In a statement, Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance Country Coordinator Mathews Mhuru  said during the period under review, stunting decreased from 40% to 35%, wasting decreased from 6% to 4% and the proportion of underweight children decreased from 15% to 12% while the proportion of overweight children has remained relatively stable from 2013-14 to 2018 at 6% and 5% respectively.

“This development is a clear indication that the many measures being implemented by the government and other stakeholders to fight malnutrition are bearing fruit,”he said.

Mhuru said that the CSO-SUN noted a number of findings that were of concern despite the drop in malnutrition.

“The report has revealed a huge gap between the rich and the poor households in terms of reduction in stunting. Children from poor households remain vulnerable from malnutrition as 40.1% of them who are the majority in Zambia are stunted compared to the 24% of children from wealthier households,” he said.

He said that the CSO-SUN had also noted with concern that there was not much change in the minimum acceptable diets, which was 11% and was now 12% which means that 88% of children do not eat diverse food frequently.

“We have also noted with concern that there has not been an improvement on exclusive breastfeeding for children younger than 6 months over the last five years. The report shows that exclusive breastfeeding among children younger than age 6 months has remained relatively stable at 73% in 2013-14 versus 70% in 2018,”he said.

Mhuru urged government and other stakeholders to focus the fight against malnutrition among the poor and rural households who are more in number with an average poverty levels at 50 percent.