Strengthen food safety nets for children including school nutrition programme - Tshepo Motsepe
Pretoria - The 2020 South African child gauge report has called for the country to look at building a child-centred food system if it hopes to address the issue of child malnutrition still lingering from 1993 levels.
The report released earlier today indicated that despite having the data, policies in place by 1994 to address the issues behind child malnutrition in the country, not much progress had done at all on the ground.
Speaking at the online launch of the report, South Africa’s first lady, Dr Tshepo Motsepe echoed similar sentiments that long before the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country was “acutely aware” of the significant number of South Africans who did not have access to sufficient food and even went hungry on a daily basis.
Motsepe said although the extent of child malnutrition in South Africa had often been documented, it was distressing to learn that the situation had deteriorated further and was exacerbated by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns experienced.
“Our child stunting rates show that we are lagging behind in nurturing our children. Stunting reflects chronic undernutrition and a lack of adequate food to promote optimal growth and development.”
“The national demographic health survey confirmed that the proportion of children who were stunted has not changed since 1993 and now with Covid-19 impacting household earnings and prices of basic foods, it paints a very dim picture regarding any progress to addressing chronic malnutrition of children.”
Motsepe said taking into account the past years’ experiences, there was a need for concerted efforts to come forth from society to respond to the needs of the children, who were the future leaders of our nation.
“We need to strengthen the food safety nets for children including our National School Nutrition Programme, the Early Child Development subsidy, our campaigns for exclusive breastfeeding, our programmes of food fortification and food supplementation, and our social protection policies. And we need these to be effectively implemented and adequately resourced.”
According to the findings of this years report 1 in 4 young children were stunted or too short for their age because they were not getting enough nutrients for healthy growth and development.
As well as 1 in 8 young children being overweight or obese as a result of consuming foods low in nutrients and high in energy from sugar and fat.
Also to make matters worse it said that 27% of children were also not getting enough exercise.