Chilufya calls for appropriate breast-feeding

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 11:26:22 +0000

By KALOBWE BWALYA

THERE is need to enhance the promotion of appropriate child feeding in Zambia in order to have a nation of healthy and productive people that will contribute positively to national development, Health minister Chitalu Chilufya has said.

In a speech read for him during a consultative meeting on the review of the Statutory Instrument on marketing of breast milk substitutes in Lusaka yesterday by Dr Francis Bwalya, the deputy director of public health, Dr Chilufya said there was need to align the Statutory Instrument on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes of 2006 in line with the current World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations in the international code.

He said under-nutrition had remained a public health concern in Zambia for a long time as various forms of malnutrition were prevalent in the country.

Dr Chilufya noted that malnutrition was common in both rural and urban areas, with rural areas presenting slightly higher chronic under-nutrition (stunting) while the urban areas present more severe acute malnutrition.

He said main causes of stunting were poverty, illiteracy, high disease burden, poor infant and young child feeding as well as poor child caring practices, adding that the 40 percent of stunted children in Zambia was attributed to the use of breast milk substitutes.

“Under-nutrition among children is due to macro and micronutrients deficiencies and apart from this overweight and obesity are now becoming a major concern across the age groups in our country, probably due to sedentary lifestyles where fatness is perceived as a sign of wealth and well-being,” said Dr Chilufya.

He said WHO had issued recommendations on effective breastfeeding because of its unique and superior benefits to child growth and survival which Zambia has also adapted the maternal infant and young.

Dr Chilufya said the country was aware of the negative effects stunting and other forms of malnutrition, including over-nutrition, would cause to economic development.

“It has been estimated that a 1 percent stunted adult population due to childhood stunting results in a 1.4 percent loss in productivity. Stunting also affects cognitive functions and has a bearing on schooling and ultimate performance and future earnings,” Dr Chitalu said.

And Dr Chilufya said malnutrition was a cost on the health bill of families and the nation at large because it caused premature death as it was an underlying cause of 45 percent deaths in children.

‘‘The first 24 months of life are the most critical and it is our duty to protect our future generation by putting in place effective legislation that will guard against inappropriate marketing of foods for infants and young children,’’ he said.

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