Posted on May 7, 2013 11:39 am

Zuhura's one-day-old baby girl

Zuhura’s one-day-old baby girl at the Health Centre in Kitomanga village, Lindi Region, Tanzania. Despite some progress, four out of ten under fives in Tanzania are stunted. 17% are severely malnourished and every day about 130 children die from causes related to malnutrition. Tanzania is of the ten worst affected countries in the world by chronic malnutrition and is the third worst in Africa. MDG 4 รข to reduce child mortality by two thirds cannot be achieved without tackling malnutrition. Stunting is caused by chronic malnutrition. Stunting includes both physical and mental stunting and means a child has not been well nourished from conception up until two years. Chronic malnutrition is irreversible at this stage and means children are often permanently mentally and physically affected, and face a lifetime of lost opportunity in education and work. They are more likely to succumb to illness and disease. Chronic malnutrition is often referred to as hidden hunger because it doesnt hit the headlines in the same way that severe acute malnutrition does in a food crisis. Malnourished mothers are more likely to have malnourished children. Most undernutrition happens during pregnancy and in the first two years of a childs life. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a childs life reduces child mortality and has health benefits that extend into adulthood. It is estimated that exclusive breastfeeding of newborn babies can prevent almost one-fifth of all child deaths. However, in Tanzania the average length of time a mother exclusively breast feeds her child is only 2.4 months. Breastfeeding benefits not only the child but the mother and family also, as it is free of cost and reduces the risk of infection in newborns, hence a reduction in medical bills. Breast milk substitutes and animal milk not only lack essential immune-building components, they also expose the infant to an increased risk of infection and morbidity. Save the Children Is supporting the Tanzanian Government train health workers at regional and community level to raise awareness on best infant and child feeding practices including exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months that aim at reducing chronic malnutrition. Through a project supported by Reckitt Benckiser, Save the Children is also supporting community core groups operating in 30 villages, which are keeping poultry and goats, participating in farming activities and running vegetable gardens.