African countries urged to increase nutrition funding to forestall malnutrition post Covid-19 pandemic

AFRICA – A new position paper has been unveiled calling upon African Heads of State and Governments to ensure that financing for nutrition is included in their country’s COVID-19 response and recovery plans.

The paper, which was released by the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN), a platform for high-level political engagement to advance nutrition in Africa notes that the pandemic has had unprecedented negative impacts on people’s health, nutrition and livelihoods across the continent.

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The ALN initiative is part of the eight flagship programs launched under the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) High 5 priorities, particularly Feed Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

The position paper, titled “Embedding Nutrition within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery,” was sent to African member states by His Majesty King Letsie III of the Kingdom of Lesotho, an ALN “Nutrition Champion”.

“As COVID-19 cases rise in Africa, the impact on nutrition and food systems cannot be denied. The threat of this new virus requires us to adopt new ways of looking and overcoming malnutrition.”

Former President of Ghana John Kufuor, an ALN founding member and Nutrition Champion.

The paper recommends that countries maintain or increase the level of funding allocated to nutrition to safeguard previous efforts to address malnutrition, and ensure there are no gaps within their multi-year nutrition programmes in the immediate, medium-term and post-pandemic recovery COVID-19 responses.

It emphasizes the role of high-level political leadership, in particular Heads of State and Ministers of Finance, as Nutrition Champions.

The call to action aims to the political leadership across the continent aims to ensure that actions and economic stimulus packages developed to combat the pandemic include plans to secure healthy and nutritious foods are made available and affordable to all.

“As COVID-19 cases rise in Africa, the impact on nutrition and food systems cannot be denied. The threat of this new virus requires us to adopt new ways of looking and overcoming malnutrition,” said former President of Ghana John Kufuor, an ALN founding member and Nutrition Champion.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a chance for Africa’s leaders to reshape and spearhead high-level sensitization, advocacy and resource mobilization efforts towards securing increased investments in nutrition, urges the AfDB.

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The Embedding Nutrition within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery platform forms part of the AfDB’s COVID-19 Response Facility to deploy financial and technical measures to cushion African economies and livelihoods against the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic.

Impact of Covid-19 in Africa’s nutrition

The COVID-19 pandemic is a health, economic and human crisis threatening the food security and nutrition of millions of people around the world, says the AfDB, and as a result, Africa is experiencing negative economic growth, primarily as a result of the sharp decline in productivity, jobs and revenues.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a chance for Africa’s leaders to reshape and spearhead high-level sensitization, advocacy and resource mobilization efforts towards securing increased investments in nutrition.

Recent data, according to African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN), shows that Africa has the highest prevalence of malnutrition and may soon overtake Asia as the region with the fastest-growing number of hungry and undernourished people.

According to 2020 Global Nutrition Report by UNICEF, although Africa relatively performs well against other regions, the region still experiences a malnutrition burden among its under-five population.

The average prevalence of overweight in under-fives is 4.9% – the second lowest across all regions.

The prevalence of stunting in under-fives is 30%, which is greater than the global average of 21.9%. Conversely, the Africa region’s prevalence of wasting in under-fives of 7.1%, is less than the global average of 7.3%.

Some 43.4% of infants under 6 months in the Africa region are exclusively breastfed, while the region’s average low birth weight prevalence of 13.7% is less than the global average of 14.6%.

The Africa region’s adult population also face a malnutrition burden. An average of 38.1% of women of reproductive age have anaemia, and 8.1% of adult women have diabetes, compared to 7.9% of men. Meanwhile, 17% of women and 7% of men have obesity.

Nutrition, Health & Wellness Webinar

FW Africa publisher of Food Business Africa Magazine has organized AFMASS Food Expo Nutrition, Health & Wellness webinar, to substantively ponder on the role that proper nutrition, health and wellness plays in the management of disease, including Covid-19, in Africa.

The webinar master class will be held on September 24, 2020 at 2.00 pm -4.00 pm East African Time (11.00 am-01.00 pm GMT).

“As African countries grapple with the pandemic, it has become imperative that individuals, households and entire communities maintain proper nutrition, health and wellness to reduce the impact of the pandemic now and into the future.”

Francis Juma – Team Leader FW Africa.

The webinar brings together key stakeholders from the food industry supply chain – food manufacturing, retail and hospitality; Government policy makers and NGOs/development organisations to set the tone for the future of nutrition, health and wellness in Africa during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Confirmed speakers who will spear head the conversation include Julia Otaya – Scientific & Regulatory Affairs Manager Coca-Cola; Peter Wathigo – Market Development Manager DSM; Dr. John Kinyuru – Lecturer, Food Science Dept., Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology and Wanjiru Kanuri – Executive Director Root Cause, Kenya.

Registration to attend is FREE via This Link.

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