African expert calls for new strategies to reduce childhood stunting

by Amref Health Africa

NAIROBI, May 28 (Xinhua) — Countries across the Sub-Saharan African region should come up with innovative policy tools combined with robust financing to help reduce the burden of childhood stunting, an expert said Friday, also the World Nutrition Day.

Desta Lakew, global director of partnerships and external affairs at Nairobi-based international health NGO Amref Health Africa, said that ending malnutrition and stunting among children is key to realizing sustainable development in the continent.

“We need to implement policies, encourage partnerships and ensure that investments are adequate to tackle the malnutrition and stunting challenge in Africa,” Lakew said during a virtual briefing.

Statistics from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization indicate that 256 million people in Africa, or 20 percent of the continent’s population, are undernourished amid growing food insecurity linked to climate change.

Lakew said that childhood stunting in Africa that has worsened against a backdrop of poverty has jeopardized the continent’s quest for inclusive growth and improved health outcomes.

According to Lakew, Africa accounts for 40 percent of stunted children globally amid threat to sustainable development.

“Poorly nourished children are unlikely to reach their full potential. Their cognitive abilities are impaired and they may be unable to contribute to their country’s prosperity,” said Lakew.

She said this year’s World Nutrition Day should serve as a wake-up call for African governments to prioritize investments in childhood nutrition programs.

Lakew said that some African countries have made a significant reduction in the number of stunted children thanks to innovative financing, partnerships, the enactment of smart policies, and community engagement.

She said that Amref Health Africa is encouraging governments, lenders, the private sector, and grassroots organizations to forge partnerships, share knowledge, experience, and expertise required to combat malnutrition and stunting effectively.

Lakew said a pilot program launched early this year by Amref Health Africa and partners is promoting mutual learning and sharing of best practices to tackle childhood stunting in Africa.

She said that investments geared towards strengthening health systems in Africa combined with community outreach will boost nutrition outcomes for children.

Article first published on

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