Addressing childhood under nutrition in Tanzania: Challenges and opportunities
Childhood undernutrition is highly prevalent in low and middle-income countries resulting in a substantial increase in overall disease burden and mortality. The problem is markedly severe in low-income countries particularly in Africa, and Tanzania is not exceptional. Childhood undernutrition is associated with decreased productivity resulting in a vicious cycle of poverty in affected families, communities and nations. Children who survive after two years of life may develop poor health
outcomes including faltering growth and irreversible damage to their cognitive, physical and psychosocial development. In a long term, childhood undernutrition can lead to poor socio-economic development of individuals, families and affected communities. Childhood undernutrition in African countries significantly contributes to poor development and the burden of disease as it complicates the existing problem of infectious diseases. Current strategies addressing this problem largely utilise a
medical care model which aims to reduce mortality and may have limited selected preventative aspects confined broadly to vaccinations, food fortifications, and micronutrient supplementations. It is apparent that environmental, cultural and social factors are receiving limited attention. This complex and dire situation demands systematic, effective comprehensive multi-level and multi-sectoral policy drivers that
provide effective socioeconomic, environmental, health policies and legislations in the pursuit of effective, equitable and just delivery of social and health services for all groups of its citizens regardless of their socio-economic status. Tanzania as a nation alongside other developing countries need to recognise the magnitude of this scourge and develop comprehensive approaches that will enable development of legislations,
policies and long term solution to childhood undernutrition. This paper reviews strategies outside of the health sector with high potential for preventing childhood undernutrition in Tanzania and that can be translated in many developing countries. Comprehensive range of legislations and policies are recommended for implementation of interventions to reduce their occurrence or ameliorate childhood undernutrition consequences.
Key words: childhood undernutrition, Tanzania, effective approach
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