Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) require government to bring together local, national and global partners to scale up nutrition-specific investment in low and middle income settings, Vice President Mr Mokgweetsi Masisi has said.
Speaking at the Nutrition Advocacy Conference, Mr Masisi said nutrition was discovered in the earliest days of history to have a positive effect on people’s health and well-being. He said scientific findings recognise that optimum nutrition leads to higher individual earnings and mental acuity which in turn support macroeconomic and societal growth.
He said nutrition needs to be understood and positioned as an input and an outcome of success of human development as a whole. He added that optimum nutrition is vital for saving lives and preventing illness.
“Investing in clear nutrition action, be it in health, agriculture, education, social protection, water, sanitation, hygiene and women’s empowerment programmes improves cognitive performance for a better knowledge and skills acquisition for a positive contribution to nation building,” he said.
He noted that Botswana recognised freedom from hunger and malnutrition as a basic survival and human right need. He said despite all the investment made by government towards nutrition programmes, malnutrition rates remain high.
He indicated that malnutrition is still a problem of public health significance.
“According to the Botswana Family Health Survey, the percentage of children under 5 years who are stunted stands at 31.2 per cent”. Underweight prevalence among under 5 years has reduced from 17 per cent to 11.9 per cent, he said.
Minister of Health Ms Dorcas Makgato said the theme of the conference, Nutrition Partnership and Investment: An Imperative Economic Investment Towards Sustainable Development, commits all to advocate for greater action and investment in nutrition and catalyse partnerships among various sectors to increase efforts to scale up nutrition programming and interventions.
Ms Makgato said the over-arching objective of the conference is to gain commitment for investing in integrated multi-sectoral approach to nutrition with the aim of providing impetus to revisions of relevant nutrition-sensitive policies on agriculture, health, trade consumption and social protection in order to improve nutrition.
She said over the years, Botswana has progressed tremendously with socio-economic development that has led to improvement in the quality of life.