Zambia’s Vice President calls for better nutrition, innovative ideas, and support for breastfeeding mothers
On 7 August 2015, the Zambia Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance met with Vice-President Inonge Wina to discuss the importance of nutrition to every Zambian child. She recognised that nutrition is of great importance to the country due to the impact stunting can have on children’s education and that childhood malnutrition is a big development issue which needs concerted efforts to address. The Vice-Presidents support and high level political commitment to nutrition was hailed by the alliance’s National Coordinator, William Chilufya.
“Children are supposed to pass well in school, but sometimes they fail because they do not eat well. Not only that, the stunting affects the brain as well. So the brain capacity of a child is compromised from an early age,” – Inonge Wina, Vice-President,
The Vice-President provided the team with great insights about her view of how actions to improve nutrition should be undertaken by all in the country. Among the actions, she highlighted the role of youth. She challenged the young people of Zambia to begin to think of how the country can develop using their own ideas, with the realisation that nutrition was imperative for every child and the nation. She also called for the promotion of consumption of local and indigenous foods as a way of reducing malnutrition, recognising that local foods have high nutritional value compared to some western foods.
“We Zambians are not originating ideas on our own. We wait for the UN to tell us that ‘this year, you embark on this programme’ and all of us form NGOs to conform to what the UN has said. It’s time for you people who are educated to start thinking of Zambia; to start thinking in terms of our country and what its needs are, how we can propel development using our own initiative, our own thinking, using our own imagination,” – Inonge Wina, Vice-President, Zambia
The meeting was also held during the commemoration of World Breastfeeding Week. A week each year which calls for concerted action to protect, promote and support breastfeeding around the world. The alliance shared the 2015 theme “Breastfeeding and Work – Let’s make it work!” with the Vice-President. She added that Zambia needs to come up with ways that will enable breastfeeding mothers to spend more time with their babies. She said that working mothers sometimes have to rush back to work for fear of being replaced, and that these and other practices, which impact breastfeeding, are proving costly in the fight against childhood malnutrition.
“We need to find a balance between the need for breastfeeding mothers to return to work and the need for the industry to maintain productivity. We may have to review certain laws and policies in that regard,” – Inonge Wina, Vice-President, Zambia
The Zambia Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance also took the opportunity to appeal to Government, through the Vice-President, the employment of more Nutritionists in the public health sector as a means to prevent malnutrition. The alliance also appealed for Government intervention to enable Nutritionists to start affiliating with the Professional Health Council of Zambia and to quicken the amendment of the National Food and Nutrition Commission Act (1967) to make it more responsive to today’s nutrition challenges, including the double burden of malnutrition.
“It is commendable that a Degree Programme is now available at UNZA for those wishing to take up a career in nutrition but our cry is that these professionals are not affiliated to the Professional Health Council of Zambia, we would like them affiliated as a way of motivating them because we treat them as members of the cadre of health workers in this country,” – William Chilufya, Zambia Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance National Coordinator