Civil society organizations advocating for the tabling of the Food and Nutrition Bill continue to lobby lawmakers to support the Bill in its original form once it is presented in Parliament.
As part of the advocacy, the civil society organizations engaged the MPs under the Parliamentary Committee on Nutrition and HIV to orient them on the merits of the Bill in Lilongwe.
The Bill is a product of national wide consultation from different stakeholders including CSOs, donors and Government agencies at all levels.
Pamela Kuwali, National Director for the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET), key issues that the Bill seeks to achieve include to promote, safeguard and facilitate the realization of the right to adequate food and nutrition.
“Unfortunately, the Bill was retained at cabinet level by the previous administration on grounds that they were aspects that needed to be removed. For instance, there are fears that, once the bill is passed into law, there will be too much pressure on Government to provide food handouts to citizens.”
On the contrary, Kuwali said framers of the Bill are only requesting that Government should create an environment that allows everyone to feed herself or himself in dignity.
“Those fears are there worldwide, but you can see that the bill is worth it as a healthy nationals equals in less medical costs.” said Kuwali.
She said the emphasis is that lawmakers pass the Bill in its original form.
“The Bill has human rights aspect, nutrition as well as food safety aspect,” she said.
In his remarks, Chairperson for parliamentary committee on Nutrition, HIV and Aids, Deus Gumba Banda, said the members are looking forward to have the Bill come to parliament.
He said the meeting was preparatory towards the tabling and passing of the Bill.
“Our only worry is that we have not fully understood the Bill. But we are hopeful that by the time it comes to Parliament we shall have fully understood the contents resulting in overwhelming support from maybe the whole House.”said Gumba.
Meanwhile, CISANET says it will convene a follow up session with the MPs to share more insight on the importance of the food and nutrition Bill.
Professor Redson Kapindu, High Court Judge, who made a presentation, said the Bill partly restricts advertising of alternative products to breast feeding as a way of encouraging exclusive breastfeeding by mothers, limits advertising of medicinal foods which do not even have the said healing abilities in them.
The Bill also provides for the formation of the Nutrition Council which will also inspect animals before slaughter if they are fit for consumption including making sure that people in hospitals, prisons, foster homes, orphanages and schools are being given quality and nutritious food.
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