Child malnutrition at unacceptable levels in SA
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Durban - THE Child Gauge 2020, put together by UCT’s Children’s Institute, would be presented by its researchers and authors to 12 government departments.
This was according to Thulani Masilela from the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), who had been speaking at the launch of the gauge entitled “It’s time to stop the slow violence of malnutrition”, yesterday.
The South African Child Gauge is an annual publication that tracks progress for South Africa’s children.
The gauge found that South Africa’s burden of child malnutrition remained unacceptably high for a middle-income country, placing it as an outlier among countries of similar wealth.
The gauge also found that the roots of the problem lay in the country’s apartheid past and its ongoing failure to uproot poverty and inequality.
It revealed that 25 years since the advent of democracy, South Africa remained the most unequal country in the world with poverty having a profoundly damaging effect on children’s care, health and development - with young children in the poorest of households three times more likely to be stunted than those in the richest 20% of households.
“The publication of this child gauge comes at a very timeous opportunity. We are about to do a mid-term review of our national food and nutrition security plan. The review is aimed at enhancing the plan and also implementing and incorporating new strategies so the recommendations of this gauge are going to become very helpful,” said said Masilela.
Presenting on the recommendations, Lori Lake from UCT’s Children’s Institute said the roots of child under-nutrition and over-nutrition were rooted in a much broader context.
“Its not only what children eat - we also know that frequent infections are part of what are driving a high level of stunting in out country so we need to consider access to food, consider children’s immediate living conditions, their access to water and sanitation which are protective in health and nutrition. We know that 60% of SA children lived in poor households in 2018, 30% had no water on site, 9% had no electricity and 20% were travelling more than 30 minutes to access health-care services. Poverty increases children’s vulnerability,” she said.
The country’s First Lady, Tsepho Motsepe, said the country was lagging behind in childhood development.
“Adequate food is fundamental to child development and safety, addressing hunger and malnutrition is not just a health issue. We need concerted effort from society to respond to the needs of our children, we need our ministers responsible for the food and nutrition security of the country to uphold the commitment of our Constitution,” said Motsepe.
The 2020 gauge would be given to the SA Human Rights Commission.