ZCSOSUNA Launches Health Youth-led Advocacy Project

ZIMBABWE Civil Society Organisations Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance ZCSOSUNA, with support from UNICEF and in partnership with Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, and Ministry of Health and Child Care have launched a youth led advocacy project targeting six districts in the country to empower adolescent learners to promote healthy living through consumption if natural foods and products.

By Patricia Mashiri

The districts include Harare, Makoni, Chivi, Chirumhanzi, Insiza and Bindura. Speaking during a press briefing, Cuthbert Mukora, the Head of Programming Rural Enterprise Trust of Zimbabwe (RETZ) said their expectation is to see an increase in the lobbying in adolescent nutrition.

We hope this initiative will play a crucial role in transforming school environments. Adolescents spend most of their time in schools and affording them access to nutritious diets and more physical activity will play a fundamental role in ensuring that they develop fully and reach their full potential.

“With the emergence of malnutrition among adolescents in many nations across the globe, it is high time we pay attention to the nutrition needs of this age group. The State of the World’s Children’s Report of 2019, highlighted that just under half of the adolescents that is 46%, consume fast food at least once a week and half of adolescent girls in low income and rural settings eat fewer than 3 meals a day, with most missing or skipping breakfast. Such practices are predisposing school going adolescents to the triple burden of malnutrition, and as a nation we cannot afford to delay in intervening. A monotonous diet is not only unhealthy for humans: it is also unhealthy for the planet because it can result in monocultures and a loss of biodiversity,” Mukora said.

He added that eating fruits and vegetables has health benefits which includes children’s growth and development since fruit and vegetables are rich in Vitamin A, calcium, iron and folate, which can promote good health. It also promotes with better mental health, health heart, lower cancer risk, and lower obesity risk.

The program aims to upscale the National School Feeding Programme to secondary schools across Zimbabwe, and in addition the programme should be sensitive to nutrition and avoid providing learners with mono diets, this requires a commitment to increase the budgetary allocations towards the national school feeding programme.

This will also include putting marketing restrictions on the sale of unhealthy foods and ensuring all school environments have healthy lifestyles.

Studies show that 1 in 4 children have Vitamin A deficiency. About 72% are living with iron deficiency while 1 in 3 have iron deficiency anaemia.

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