Nyasa Times (02.28.13)
Malawi President Dr. Joyce Banda launched the Nutrition, HIV and AIDS Project on February 28 with support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the World Bank, and $103 million from the United States. The project will increase access and utilization of selected services that reduce child and maternal anemia as well as stunted growth in children. The project also will work to prevent HIV/AIDS in children and sexually active adults.
At the project’s launch, Banda emphasized that, although Malawi is making progress in improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, the country still has challenges in combatting stunting and anemia. Banda declared that 47.1 percent of children were stunted in growth, which is an unhealthy development for Malawi. She added that in this project, the country would change focus to ensure Malawi has policies and programs that support nutrition improvement. To accomplish this, the government and stakeholders need to cooperate in the implementation of mother and child programs. Malawians need to take nutrition issues seriously.
Malawi Secretary for Nutrition, HIV, and AIDS Edith Mkawa warned that stunting has long-term effects on cognitive development and results in a 1-percent loss in adult height and a 1.4-percent loss in productivity. Alain Latulipe, Canadian high commissioner to Malawi, stated that Canada was encouraged by the Malawi government’s dedication to caring for children under the age of five and pregnant mothers, and by their efforts to combat HIV/AIDS; therefore, they had confidence that Malawi also would be successful in fighting stunting. Sandra Bloemenkamp, country manager for the World Bank, said the bank would provide support to ensure that the country achieves its Malawi Development Growth Strategies. She noted that Malawi has made considerable gains in child survival and maternal health but stunting still is a serious problem. She stressed that the World Bank and CIDA funding will scale up maternal and child nutrition service delivery, both at community and national levels.