KAGERA Regional Commissioner (RC) Major General Charles Mbuge has called for greater awareness of good nutrition as an important part of a healthy lifestyle. He also urged residents, authorities and nutritionists to work together to end malnutrition in the region.

“It is high time everyone worked together to achieve the goal of a malnutrition-free generation in Kagera.

He said that children in the region will remain at greater risk if no action is taken, and that investing in nutrition is essential for Tanzania to move forward and that a concerted effort still needs to be made to ensure that hundreds of stunted children are in of the Kagera region will be saved from the disease.

A recent baseline survey found that around 224,364 children under the age of five have withered in the Kagera area. The minimum acceptable diet was 18.1 percent compared to the national average of 30.3 percent.

The rate of continued breastfeeding after two years was 44.4 percent, while the national average was 43.3 percent. The exclusive breastfeeding rate was 85 percent and the frequency of meals per day was 55 percent. Mr Mbuge stated that while some effort had been made to reduce the growth lag from 41.7 percent in 2015/16 to 39.8 percent in 2019, more effort was needed.

“It is high time everyone worked together to achieve the goal of a malnutrition-free Kagera region … without action, children in the region will be at greater risk,” he said.

Yusuf Hamis, Kagera’s Regional Nutrition Officer, on the other hand, urged everyone involved to join forces in the fight against malnutrition and hidden hunger, pointing out that more efforts should be made to educate families, especially women, about the importance of breastfeeding and the consumption of foods rich in micronutrients, proteins and vitamin A.

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The region has enough types of food, including bananas, beans, and fishery resources, particularly from Lake Vitoria, and 14 satellite lakes, so food availability is not an issue.

Families should be educated about the best types of food they can eat on a daily basis, he said. The Kagera region is one of the areas with high growth retardation in children under five, currently 39.8 percent, while the national average is 34 percent.

Other regions with a high stunting rate in brackets are Njombe (53.6 percent), Iringa (47.1 percent), Rukwa (47.9 percent), Songwe (43.3 percent), Kigoma (42.3 percent) and Ruvuma (41.0 percent). In 2015, it is estimated that more than 2.7 million Tanzanian children under the age of five were considered stunted and more than 600,000 were suffering from acute malnutrition, of which 100,000 were severe cases.

The nutritional status of children under 5 years of age varies greatly. In Tanzania, 58 percent of all disabled children are in ten regions and half of children in five regions who suffer from severe acute malnutrition.