Lilongwe University Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) Department of Nutrition and Health has embarked on research to establish underlying factors behind higher cases of malnutrition and stunted growth in people in two districts of Mzimba and Dowa which stand at 39 percent.
Speaking in Mzimba on Friday when they briefed members of the District Nutrition Coordinating Committee (DNCC), a Lecturer in the Department of Nutrition and Health at LUANAR and a member of the Research Team, Lloyd Chauwa said the two districts’ rate of malnutrition and stunted growth is above the national rate of 35 percent.
According to Chauwa, the government is implementing several nutritional interventions and some of those interventions target to combat chronic malnutrition, and yet the statistics for Mzimba show there is chronic malnutrition and stunted growth cases which are not going down.
He said there is no known reason behind the rise in cases of stunted growth in people of the two districts but through the findings of the research they want to do; they hope to establish the determinants.
‘‘We have implementers in the districts in the form of various organizations implementing nutrition interventions but chronic malnutrition cases are not coming down as it is expected to be. So, we want to find out if there any barriers that are hindering us as we implement nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions,’’ the Lecturer said.
He said there could be gaps in terms of knowledge, attitudes, and practices at policy, extension, and community levels which were making the interventions fail in combating malnutrition and stunted growth among people.
Chauwa said after the two-year research’s findings, the research team and members of the DNCC would meet policymakers, implementers, extension workers, and community structures and agree on how to go about addressing the stunted growth problem.
M’mbelwa District Council Nutrition Officer, Gift Simukonda said the research was welcomed as it was fundamental to reversing the trends of stunted growth.
‘‘Academia is critical to identifying solutions to many problems and the research by Luanar will really go a long way in identifying the underlying factors to the problems of malnutrition and stunted growth in Mzimba. We hope that the research findings will help us deal with the problem of stunted growth,’’ he noted.