Eight things worth knowing about child nutrition in Mozambique
Get up to speed on nutrition facts in the southern African country as its people come to terms with the real cost of hunger to their economy and well-being.
Mozambique is a low-income food-deficit country with a largely rural population of 28 million. It ranked 181st of 188 countries in the 2016 Human Development Index, 104th of 118 in the 2016 Global Hunger Index and 139th of 157 in the 2015 Gender Inequality Index.
In 2015, Mozambique reached its Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of hungry people in the country. But despite the gains that have been made in food security, significant challenges persist with 43 percent of children under 5 years of age showing signs of chronic malnutrition, often referred to as ‘stunting’. According to a recent study, the annual costs associated with child undernutrition are estimated at US$ 1 billion (62 billion MZN).
This serious public health concern is due to a combination of factors including poor complementary feeding practices or maternal nutrition, high rates of infectious diseases like malaria and poor access to health services, water and sanitation. In poor settings, care-givers of malnourished children are often not aware about the causality link between malnutrition, disease and, potentially, mortality.
Here are some additional facts about child nutrition in Mozambique:
1. Only 45.2 percent of children with undernutrition are estimated to be receiving proper health care.
2. Most of the health costs associated with undernutrition occur before the child reaches 3 years of age.
3. 26 percent of all child mortality cases in Mozambique are associated with undernutrition.
4. 10 percent of all grade repetitions in school are associated with stunting.
5. Stunted children achieve 4.7 years fewer in school education than children with normal growth.
6. Child mortality associated with undernutrition has reduced Mozambique’s workforce by 10 percent.
7. 60.2 percent of the adult population in Mozambique suffered from stunting as children.
8. Stunted children are more likely to drop out of school. It is estimated that only 12 percent of stunted adults in Mozambique completed primary school, compared to 84 percent of those with normal growth.
The Government prioritizes the reduction of malnutrition in the country. The aim to reduce stunting in children to 35 percent is reflected in its Five-Year Plan (2015–2019), which calls for a multi-sectorial approach within the Government and with partners.
WFP is supporting the Government in various ways, including by sponsoring the ‘Fill the Nutrient Gap’ study that will identify a package of multi-sectorial interventions to reduce stunting in the most efficient and cost-effective ways. The study will be endorsed by the Government at the technical level in April 2018, and is expected to influence future policies and investments in this area.
Find out more about nutrition and WFP’s on wfp.org