President Lazarus Chakwera Thursday said it is painful to note that most Malawians have become over-dependent on nsima to the extent that they cannot live without the staple.
He was speaking in Lilongwe, where he launched the Scaling Up Nutrition (Sun) 3.0 Movement, the Nutrition Education and Communication Strategy and the Eat Well to Live Well Guide.
He said if Malawians did not diversify their diets to include foods such as cassava, bio-fortified sweet potatoes, bananas and other food stuffs, the country would continue failing to meet its nutritional needs.
“The painful truth is that those among us who say that we haven’t eaten until we have eaten nsima need to rethink our beliefs about nutrition and take seriously the science of how too much nsima consumption affects our bodies.
“This Sun 3.0 is, therefore, a unique opportunity for us to re-engineer our society towards a diversified diet. That is one message we must all carry and support from here. Private sector players like banks, hotels, companies and shops must promote this. Civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations must promote this. Community leaders like parents, parliamentarians, councillors, chiefs and the clergy must promote this,” Chakwera said.
He has since challenged Malawians to replace 10 percent of their nsima consumption every year with other more nutritious foods.
“That is the kind of discipline and commitment it will take from all of us to help make malnutrition history in our country. I am confident that we can do it, for doing great things that seem beyond our capacity is part of what it means to be Malawian,” the President said.
According to the 2020 Integrated Household Survey, the rate of stunting in Malawi has gone down from 47 percent to 33 percent; the Vitamin A deficiency rate is down from 22 percent to a record low of 3.6 percent while the proportion of children who require hospitalisation due to severe acute malnutrition has significantly reduced from 3 percent to less than 1 percent.
Chakwera hailed the strong partnership among the government, development partners, private sector and other stakeholders in fighting malnutrition.
Vice-President Saulos Chilima bemoaned the absence of nutrition experts at community level, saying, in the past, they used to advise community members on good eating habits.
United Nations Assistant Secretary- General and Coordinator for Sun 3.0 Gerda Verburg hailed Chakwera for his commitment to eradicating malnutrition from the country.
Verburg said, for Malawi to effectively combat the challenge of malnutrition, it needed to invest more in children so that they grow into healthy adults.