Approximately 27% of children under five are stunted in South Africa. The Western Cape Government, in conjunction with DGMT and other partners, recently released the Western Cape Stunting Baseline Survey. The key conclusion of the Western Cape Stunting Baseline Survey (WCSBS) is that the burdens of malnutrition, stunting and overweight/obesity, remain a concern in the province. Read the executive summary of the survey here.
It is generally acknowledged that stunting is the best indicator of a child’s well-being and that a child’s linear growth potential is largely determined by the time they turn two years old. Stunting is associated with many disorders including reduced neurodevelopment, lifelong cognitive deficits, educational and employment challenges, increased risk of obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in adulthood, and cycles of intergenerational poverty. There are simple ways we can start to tackle SA’s stunting crisis to help our children reach their full potential – and, in so doing, improve our prospects as a nation.
Stunting needs to be included as part of any discussions around nutrition. Interventions around maternal and child nutrition are one of the best ways to reduce stunting rates in South Africa. Simple interventions, like a discounted basket of food, can help turn around stunting. This however requires buy-in from government, retailers and manufacturers.
Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Minister of Health and Wellness says, “The latest findings tell us that we need to do more to broaden access to affordable and nutritious foods. We need to work together to improve the health outcomes of our young children so that they can thrive, which is why I will be taking these findings forward and discussing them with my counterparts within the Provincial Government.”
Dr Keith Cloete, Head of the Department of Health, says, “We commissioned this baseline survey to determine if our existing interventions are working. While there is an overall reduction, more needs to be done, which is why we will take the recommendations of the survey forward and engage all relevant partners, both civil, private and governmental in enhancing our interventions, especially focused on the first one thousand days of a child’s conception to second birthday.”
“We need to accelerate the gains that have been made over the past seven years to ensure children are getting the nutrition, safety, care and support they need to thrive by the age of five,” says Anna-Marie Müller, DGMT Innovation Manager.