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Guinea-Bissau celebrates first National Nutrition Day

  |   SUN Country Network

Guinea-Bissau celebrated its first National Nutrition Day on Saturday 18 November. An initiative promoted by the Government of Guinea-Bissau, with support from the United Nations and the World Food Programme (WFP), its aim is to improve the country’s nutritional situation. It seeks in particular to promote healthy and balanced eating habits in communities, homes and schools, with the help of mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers, doctors and health workers, community and religious leaders, and the local and national government authorities.

The official ceremony was attended by Mr. Soares Sambu, Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, on behalf of the Prime Minister, Mr. Carlitos Barai, Minister of Public Health, and Ms Anita Djalo Sani, Governor of Oio, along with governors, diplomatic staff,  representatives from children’s and youth groups, local and religious communities, the medical community, nutritionists, civil society, national and international partners and the media, as well as colleagues from WFP and the UN agencies.

Malnutrition is the underlying cause of death in 35 percent of cases of under-five mortality in Guinea-Bissau, and this has an effect on all sectors of development, as well as high social and economic costs. According to the 2014 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) survey, the prevalence of acute malnutrition is 6 percent nationally, with the most alarming indicators found in the regions of Gabu (7.6 percent), Bafatá (7.2 percent) and Oio (6.7 percent). In September, in cooperation with WFP, the Government of Guinea-Bissau instigated a study aimed at producing up-to-date information on the impact of malnutrition on the country’s productivity, economy, education system and health, thus contributing to the African Union’s joint study initiative into “The Cost of Hunger in Africa” along with a further 20 African countries.

On 6 September last, the Council of Ministers announced that 18 November would be National Nutrition Day, thus demonstrating its political will and commitment to improve the nutritional situation in Guinea-Bissau. This commitment reaffirms the Council of Ministers’ recognition of the fact that there will be little development of human capital nor, consequently, socio-economic growth until the country can eradicate chronic malnutrition. Now that this day has been instigated, it is hoped that the country’s leaders at all levels will join the struggle to combat malnutrition. In the long term this will result in an improved nutritional and health status in the country, especially among the most vulnerable sectors of society such as children, expectant and breastfeeding mothers and the elderly. It will be a first step towards a better quality of life and increased productivity for the country. National Nutrition Day is an opportunity to begin to bring about positive change in the lives of children and mothers.

 

 

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