Stunting Remains Zimbabwe’s Leading Form Of Malnutrition In Children- ZimVAC 2020

CHILD Stunting continues to slow efforts to address malnutrition in Zimbabwe amidst indications that stunting remains high at 29.4% for the children under the age of five according to the 2020 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) survey.

By Michael Gwarisa

According to the ZimVAC, the national stunting prevalence was reported to be 29.4% among children6-59 months. The Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate was 3.7% and below the WHO threshold for emergency. Children identified as underweight was 9.45 and comparable with other assessments

Stunting remains high (29.4%) and the leading form of malnutrition for the under-fives. Boys (34.5%) were more stunted than girls (24.3%).

“The national prevalence of stunting (29.4%) remains above the acceptable global thresholds of 20%. However, there are two provinces Manicaland (41.6%) and Matabeleland North (35.4%) with prevalence above the national average. There is need for a Government led multi-sectoral approach to scale up stunting reduction programmes,” said the Survey.

Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median.

Manicaland (41.6%) and Matabeleland North (35.4%) had stunting prevalence above the national prevalence. Mat South had a stunting prevalence of 29.4%, Mash Central had 28.1%, Mash East 26.5%, Mash West 27.9%, Midlands 20.5%, and Masvingo and the lowest stunting levels of 23.1%.

Meanwhile, Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) prevalence according to the ZimVAC survey 2020, stands at 3.7% with Matabeleland North (5.7%) and Mashonaland Central (5.3%) recording the highest.  GAM is a measurement of the nutritional status of a population that is often used in protracted refugee situations.

“The current prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) (3.7%) is within the acceptable WHO cut off values for public health action. However, some provinces had prevalence above national average (Matabeleland North 5.7 &, Mashonaland Central 5.3% and Matabeleland South 4.3%). The Government of Zimbabwe needs to scale up interventions that reduce and maintain GAM rates below global thresholds.”

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