First lady Dr Gertrude Mutharika Wednesday renewed her commitment to the girl child education by improving nutrition among them.
She said this in Lilongwe during the official opening of the second 2016 International Food and Nutrition Research dissemination conference.
“As I was listening to the presentation on how increased girl education is linked to improved nutrition indicators, I have more reasons to renew my commitment to the girl child education,” Mutharika said.
She explained that the burning zeal on the plight of the girl child by nutrition sector compliments with the global agenda in investing in the girl child.
The first lady added that Beatify Malawi (BEAM) Trust has goals of keeping girls in school which are similar to nutrition fraternity in the country.
Mutharika assured the nutrition fraternity in the country, that as a mother she is on their side and together they are a winning team in improving nutrition on a girl child.
She said she will help to accelerate access to quality community nutrition services and appealed to researchers, programmers, development partners and other stakeholders to go deeper in unearthing what needs to be done and how to do it so that the country can concentrate its limited resources on what could work best in the country’s context.
Minister of Heath, Dr Peter Kumpalume said the country’s economy depends on nutrition and the conference would help the heath sector to make right policies on nutrition.
He said this year’s conference is focusing on a girl child because the vast majority of the children born in this county are from adolescent girls who have no resources to provide good diet to themselves and their newborn babies.
Kumpalume added that poor nutrition result in stunted growth which causes low productivity among the affected group.
He assured the delegates that the research findings would be translated into policies and urged researchers in the country to train others so that nutrition they can carry on the job once they retire.
Associate Professor of Human Nutrition at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) Alexander Kalimbira in his presentation said a lot of malnutrition occurs among adolescent girls.
He said there is a need to keep a girl child in school to reduce early marriages and pregnancies to improve the nutrition status of this country.
“Girls who have not attained education 43 per cent of them contribute to stunted growth among their child unlike those that attained education and their contribution is at 12 per cent and 34 per cent of girls that did not attain education fail to give their children minimum acceptable diet than those that attained which their contribution is 7 per cent,” Kalimbira explanied.
He added that nutrition has infect on health, education and productivity as 23 per cent of children die because of malnutrition and 59 per cent of death among children under the age of two are caused by malnutrition.
Kalimbira further said 18 per cent of children who repeat at school is due to under nutrition and stunted growth makes the production to be low.
He emphasized the need to place girls needs at heart, keep girls in school, protect them from early pregnancies and marriages and ensure food and nutrition security among them.
Kalimbira also said the first 1000 days have to be treated well to improve nutrition status of pregnant mothers and children before they reached the age of 2.
The conference is the second one and this year’s theme: “You are what you eat” and three women were awarded for contributing in improving nutrition status of the country. The awardees were late Matasi Mkwamba, Dr Mary Shawa and Dr Beatrice Mtimuni.