Zimbabwe struggles To Scale up Infant Nutrition

Story by Nevson Mpofu

HealthTimes Correspondent  

 ZIMBABWE is part of the initiative Scaling Up Nutrition Movement which was initiated in 2010.

Currently, Zimbabwe Civil Society Organizations scaling up Nutrition Alliance [ZCSOSUNA] are intensifying Nutrition sensitive interventions with a network of its various stakeholders. The ‘hot’ topic is on the 1st 1000  days.

The First 1000 days of an infant baby’s survival and life are being sustained to stand crucial as Nutrition security and Food security are to be heightened by Command Agriculture and NUTRITION Scaling up programs . .

In the 1st 1000 days, great continuum of care, empathy and financial support is no doubt to ignore .There is need to scale up Nutrition as we support Food and Nutrition security to eliminate stunting .

Stunting occurs when a child lacks nutritious food, then he or she in life becomes shorter than his or her expected age .If given all the necessary food requirements in what is called Balanced Diet, there is no stunting.

An Expert in the field of Nutrition , Kudakwashe Zombe advocates Scaling Up Nutrition as the great way forward in the nourishment of health for babies who need continuum care as they grow up in well-balanced diet since it is critical for growth , body function ,metabolism and body health in general .

“We are Civil Society in Nutrition working on Scaling Up Nutrition throughout the country to save children as enshrined in Convention on the Rights of the Child articles which must be followed by all countries in the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement.

“We stand for this cause to push for technical and financial support , to call for a balanced budget spared on nutrition , to net-work, capacitate knowledge on Nutrition security and to bring advocacy and communication,’’he said.

Several diseases and conditions in line with Malnutrition include kwashiorkor, marasmus, pellagra, anemia ,scurvy, rickets and under- growth condition called stunting.  These are a threat to achievement of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Research must be highly linked to Infant survival, a goal key to Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations .As long Nutrition targets are not met ,certain goals of the United Nations won’t be realized, as a result prevalence rate of absolute poverty , that is lack of 3 basic needs increases .

Although Zimbabwe has made strides on Millennium Development Goals 2, achieving Universal Primary Education and 3 on Gender equality, more was meant to focus on goal 4 on improving Infant Mortality, 5 on Maternal mortality and on Goal 6 , HIV and AIDS. Much still need to be improved on Sustainable Development Goals .Such is the focus on Breastfeeding.

On the sidelines of Sustainable Development Goals, ZCSUNA Chairperson , Tendai Gunda is much concerned with infants’ survival chances through adequate nutrition in the communities where some people are marginalized.

“Zimbabwe must work hard on areas of child mortality and maternal mortality in order for us to score on Sustainable Development Goals of which the Millennium ones, Goals 4 and 5 on the 2 areas, child mortality reduction and maternal mortality were not well done with in many developing countries.’’

“As a nation, the need for scaling up nutrition is no doubt a priority since we are part of the scaling up nutrition Movement. We also need to network, communicate, advocate and capacitate knowledge on Nutrition’, .There is no perfect food more than breast milk from mothers , in fact policy issues must be dealt with in-order for us to push and succeed on all we need and work towards,”she said .



Breast milk is a universal vital component for babies which is essential in combating diarrheal diseases and it increases the baby’ survival chances. Apart from these advantages, there are some outstanding advantages which stand to keep the baby always health of which breast feeding experts have explored. Therefore, a dollar spent on Child Nutrition offers more benefit to humanity than any other form of Investment.

On winning a goal for life, it is crucial to understand the past, plan for the future and celebrate 10 years of Global strategies on breastfeeding. In this age we are, breastfeeding developments are growing up at a time we are facing the adversity of HIV and AIDS, Climate Change and Variation which cause disasters, natural and manmade, famine, drought and floods.

The human immuno virus is transmitted from the parent (in this respect) the mother) through 3 ways. Firstly, while the baby is in womb, secondly during birth and thirdly and lastly during breastfeeding. The baby gets the virus through the vaginal canal at a time of giving birth followed by breast feeding and lastly while in the womb .

During pregnancy mothers are – medically advised to use ARVs like Nevirapine which suppresses the virus. Blood testing is very important to be taken regularly when mothers are pregnant.

The PPTCT – Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission program was first introduced in 1999 initially by ZVITAMBO PROJECT until it spreads into clinics and hospitals and taken up by some Civil Society. Up to now it has rose to greater heights. One organization at International level is Elizabeth Glacier Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

From a baby care initiative point of view, it is the right of the baby for him/her to be protected and prevented from the virus spread which causes AIDS – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, that is when CD4 count goes down to below 250 cells / ml of blood . Despite the threat of the virus, mothers are advised to breastfeed the first hour of birth. After that there is advice for mothers to continue breastfeeding taking into consideration the first 1000 days.

The first six months are biologically important, this infancy stage. Mothers are advised to breastfeed exclusively although positive. Exclusive breastfeeding is important because breast milk is completely perfect for babies. It provides all nutrients and water babies need during the first six months. Colostrum, the first milk is essential because it protects the baby from many diseases, boosting immunity and strengthening the body.

A senior Nutritionist Monica Muti from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, pointed out that it is important to practice breastfeeding because it protects babies from diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia. She even gave a deep meaning of Exclusive Breastfeeding.

“It means giving milk only and nothing else, not even water sips, except for prescribed medicines by doctors. This goes on in hot or cold weather for about 6 months. After 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, 70 to 100% must be mother’s milk.

“Breast milk can contain HIV if the mother is infected.  The virus can pass through breast milk. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces chances of a baby becoming infected and it increases chances of survival of babies” she stressed out clearly.”

Mother to baby empathy binds the two such that their relationship moulds time and gain. During this time mothers breasts are fully solid with milk. They first produce maternal oxytocin which stimulate milk and attracts baby attention.

The Nutritionist further pointed out that after six months of birth, babies can feed on soft baby prepared food like porridge. This is called supplementary feeding. This may include bottled milk, mealie-meal, porridge mixed with peanut butter or margarine. Despite this 70%-100% must be breast milk.

Experts of sundry dimensions had a lot to say, a Medical Doctor, Melody Mukaro pointed out.

“Breastfeeding increases an infant’s survival chances. Infants’ breastfed during the first two months of birth have only 37% risk of death. It is important in countries with high mortality rates especially in Africa, south of the Sahara,” she said.

Some experts have viewed breastfed infants as more boxum and smarter than any other infants. However, in this era of HIV and AIDS inspite of its presence, women being positive or not are highly advised to breastfeed exclusively especially the first six months after birth and look beyond 1000 days, that is the first 3 years of life. .

Mothers are recommended to get straight advice from doctors and nutritionists for more information on nutrition guidelines. However the code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes and Infant Regulation recommends breastfeeding mothers not to use bottled milk the first six months. Even if it is to be used there are particular guidelines to be followed.

Nevson Mpofu is an HIV and AIDS and Community Development Lecturer…….. Co






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