ZIMBABWE has been doing relatively well in improving the nutrition for children under five years over the past ten years as it reduced the stunting prevalence to 21.6 percent in 2022 from 31.1 percent in 2012, a joint United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) and World Bank report shows.
By Kuda Pembere
For stunting Zimbabwe is in the high threshold. As for overweight, in 2012, the southern African country had a prevalence of 4.6 percent decreasing it to 2.7 percent in 2022 with a low threshold. The prevalence rate for wasting in Zimbabwe was 2.9 percent in 2019.
Stunting is the devastating result of poor nutrition in-utero and early childhood. Children suffering from stunting may never attain their full possible height and their brains may never develop to their full cognitive potential. These children begin their lives at a marked disadvantage with consequences continuing into adulthood: they face learning difficulties in school, earn less as adults, and face barriers to participation in their communities,” said UNICEF and World Bank.
Africa accounted for 43 percent of the global share of stunting.
“Stunting has been declining steadily over the last decade, with 148.1 million, or 22.3 per cent of children under age 5 worldwide affected in 2022. Nearly all children affected lived in Asia (52 per cent of the global share) and Africa (43 per cent of the global share),” added UNICEF.
Child wasting is the life-threatening result of poor nutrient intake and/or recurrent illnesses.
“Children suffering from wasting have weakened immunity, are susceptible to long-term developmental delays and face an increased risk of death, particularly when wasting is severe.
“Children suffering from severe wasting require early detection and timely treatment and care to survive. In 2022, an estimated 45 million children under 5 (6.8 per cent) were affected by wasting, of which 13.6 million (2.1 per cent) were suffering from severe wasting. More than three quarters of all children with severe wasting live in Asia and another 22 per cent live in Africa,” UNICEF noted.
UNICEF and World Bank said childhood overweight occurs when children’s caloric intake from food and beverages exceeds their energy requirements.
“This form of malnutrition is driven by failing food systems characterized by poor affordability and access to nutritious foods, the marketing of nutrient-poor ultra-processed foods, and inadequate opportunities for physical activity.
“There are now 37 million children under 5 living with overweight globally, an increase of nearly 4 million since 2000,” stated UNICEF and World Bank.
The past decade has seen important gains in improving maternal and child nutrition, including a one-third decline in the proportion of children suffering from stunting.
“Yet the triple burden of malnutrition – stunting, wasting and overweight – continues to jeopardize children’s ability to survive and thrive.