Disasters, food insecurity affect Malawi’s fight against malnutrition

The Government of Malawi has highlighted natural disasters and food insecurity as some of the major contributing factors affecting the country’s fight against malnutrition.

The country registered a significant reduction in malnutrition in 2010 from 47 percent to 37 percent in 2016.

However, the progress from 2016 to 2020 was slow at two percent only (from 37 percent to 35 percent), a situation the Director of Nutrition, HIV and Aids in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Felix Pensulo Phiri, Dr. Felix Pensulo Phiri, attributed to cyclones that led to food insecurity, among others.

Dr. Felix Pensulo Phiri–Cyclones, food insecurity and Ukraine-Russia war have negatively affected food supply chain

Phiri made the sentiments in an interview in Lilongwe ahead of the official opening of the eighth Agriculture, Nutrition and Health Academy Week on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.

He also cited droughts and the Ukraine-Russia war as another factor that contributed to the drop in nutrition uptake among Malawians, stressing that the war has negatively affected the food supply chain in many countries, including Malawi.

On a positive note, Dr. Phiri disclosed that Malawi registered a reduction in cases of vitamin A deficiency from 22 percent in 2010 to 3.6 percent in 2016.

“We need to emphasize the importance of dietary diversification such as the recent developments on consumption of sweet potatoes. It’s a very good development and we need to encourage people to enrich it with other foods such as fish, meat and vegetables to improve quality so that all the necessary nutrients to promote growth and development,” he said.

Professor Suneetha Kadiyala, who is the director of ANH Academy and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the gathering of researchers, practitioners and policy makers, working at the intersection of agriculture-food systems and nutrition and health, is a testament  to the commitment of the community to realise its ambition of ensuring that nutritious and healthy diets are  safe and affordable to all in a sustainable, equitable and just way.

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