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Tuesday, 14 November 2023 22:28

EC provincial government notes SAHRC's report on child malnutrition.

Staff Reporter.

The Eastern Cape Provincial Government says it has noted the South African Human Rights Commission's (SAHRC) report on Child Malnutrition and the Right to Food, which calls for closer monitoring and increased interventions to deal with child malnutrition.

The SAHRC's report, which reflects outcomes of the research conducted in August 2022, revealed that the level of malnutrition remain very high in the province.

Malnutrition of children is mostly associated with poor households, with food security leading to compromised nutritional intake. 

It is also noted that children born to teenage mothers or under circumstances of alcohol and drug abuse and domestic violence are more likely to experience lack of care which affects child feeding practices.

Responding to the report which was released recently, the provincial government noted that since the dawn of democracy it has been implementing various policy interventions and strategies towards addressing the triple challenges of poverty, inequality, and unemployment. 

These include addressing the concerning plight of child malnutrition in areas of the province. 

While acknowledging that the levels of malnutrition remain very high, the provincial government noted a drop in the fatality rate due to severe acute malnutrition from 11.8% in 2017/18 to 7% in the 2022/2023 financial year.

This is attributed to inter-sectoral collaboration efforts by other departments including Social Development, South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and relevant stakeholders to tackle social determinants of health affecting child malnutrition.

The government emphasised that effective prevention of malnutrition among children requires collective responsibility between government, civil society, private sector, communities, and other appropriate stakeholders.

Highlighting some of the interventions to support the basic health and nutrition rights of all children in under-resourced and vulnerable communities, the provincial government said through the South African Social Services Agency, the Eastern Cape provincial government has provided Child Support Grants (CSG) to millions of deserving children, lifting many out of the poverty line. 

"Government is spending more than R1 billion towards providing the CSG to close to 2 million children that include Care Dependency and Foster Care Grants. Furthermore, there are about 3 950 undocumented children that are benefiting from the CSG in the province. 

"Government is also implementing the School Malnutrition Programme, where children are provided with nutritious meals to enhance their general wellbeing, and also taught to establish and maintain good eating and lifestyle habits," the provincial government said.

Through the Department of Social Development, the province continues to provide food parcels and regular meals for mothers and infants from the Social Relief of Distress, as well as provision of support, guidance, parenting and feeding skills through the Indlezana Programme.

Mothers have also been equipped with technical skills through income generating projects to generate immediate income to supplement social grants.

In addition, the provincial government has implemented programmes targeted at child-headed homes, as well as children living in the streets through a community-based prevention and early intervention program to enhance efforts of protecting orphaned and vulnerable children.

The Provincial Government has further implemented programmes to address malnutrition in ensuring that mothers and children have access to services that promote the health growth and development of children as well as prevention, early identification, and management of malnutrition. 

"These include growth monitoring and promotion of breastfeeding in all levels of care and communities, prevention of teenage pregnancy, strengthening of nutritional supplementation and nutrition education, as well as education of mothers and caregivers on proper complementary feeding practices. 

"The department of health is also working with partners like United Children's Fund (UNICEF) and United Population Fund (UNFPA) to implement various strategies in the community to reduce child morbidity and mortality in the province, "the government said.

It also noted collaboration between the department of Health and Social Development to champion Integrated Mother and Child Development Malnutrition Support Programme in OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo, which has yielded positive results.

The provincial government has committed to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people in the province, through various strategic interventions.