By Sarah Munthali – Mana.
Mchinji district has registered 25 malnutrition child related deaths, from January to June 2021, Mchinji District Council Nutrition Officer, Peacewell Tholo disclosed this on Thursday.
He was presenting a report on the nutrition status for the district during a “Dialogue on Food Systems that ensure Access to Safe and Nutritious Food for the people of Mchinji District organised by the Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) in collaboration with the Development Fund of Norway under Transform Programme.
Tholo said the 13 deaths were children from admissions at Nutrition Rehabilitation Unit- and the other 12 from the Outpatient Therapeutic Programme (OTP).
“From January-June 2021 admissions at Nutrition Rehabilitation Unit Mchinji district hospital were 139 patients while Out per treatment were 3,135,” he added.
Mchinji District Hospital Nutritionist, Cassius Mkandawire said the deaths are still occurring despite the district being a food basket in the central region.
He said most families do not feed their children nutritious food and most malnourished children are brought to hospital very late.
“Despite some interventions by the hospital and partners in curbing malnutrition, the problem is still there,” he said.
Mkandawire proposed that government to recruit home craft workers at area level to ensure that households have enough nutritious food to give their children.
Acting Chief Agriculture Officer for Mchinji district, Stater Magombo said in 2021 farmers in the district have sold most of their legumes such as soya beans and groundnuts.
“We have been interacting with traders and it shows that most soya beans have been sold out due to the increase in selling prices and our findings show that the farmers have only kept soya seed in readiness for the next planting next season,” he said.
Magombo said most farmers in Mchinji sell all their legume produce without keeping some for consumption saying most farmers are now selling groundnuts without storing some for home use.
“These legumes play a big role in the nutritious status this is a threat to the district, and as an office we are strategizing with farmers to do food budgeting and use other alternatives such as winter cropping to help address the gap,” he said.
According to CEPA’s Programme Officer, Alfred Kambwiri the dialogue on food systems was held as part of the UN Food Systems Summit which would be convened in September 2021 to help establish the future direction for food systems.
The UN summit on food systems is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to “Ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all by 2030.”