1 in 5 SA kids stunted; first lady vows to beat that

Pretoria News - - NATION - THABO MOLELEKWA thabo.molelekwa@inl.co.za

ONE in five South African chil­dren un­der 5 suf­fer from stunt­ing, ac­cord­ing to the re­cent SA De­mo­graphic and Health Sur­vey.

It found that stunted chil­dren suf­fer de­layed growth and their brains don’t de­velop as they should.

So the Grow Great Cam­paign was of­fi­cially launched this month to fight stunt­ing. This multi-fun­der drive aims to con­front the hid­den chal­lenge of chronic un­der-nu­tri­tion and will mo­bilise the na­tion to achieve zero-stunt­ing by 2030.

Given her com­mit­ment to ma­ter­nal and child health and her ad­vo­cacy for early child­hood de­vel­op­ment, the cam­paign’s First Lady, Dr Tshepo Mot­sepe, in her key­note ad­dress at the re­cent launch said: “If we are to achieve zero stunt­ing by 2030 we must make bet­ter use of our com­mu­nity health care work­ers. These peo­ple are the clos­est to house­holds; they de­velop a rap­port with and are trusted by the com­mu­nity.”

Mot­sepe said the in­ter­ven­tion of com­mu­nity health work­ers make a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on child­hood nu­tri­tion, es­pe­cially in the first three years.

“Nu­tri­tion is one of the most im­por­tant fac­tors we need to ad­dress in the first days of a child’s life. It is ex­tremely crit­i­cal to their growth.”

Mot­sepe hoped the Grow Great Cam­paign would take hold in all parts and in all lev­els of so­ci­ety.

“This ini­tia­tive re­quires the par­tic­i­pa­tion of South Africans who live in abun­dance and those who live in need. This is an ini­tia­tive that em­braces all South Africans – black and white, ur­ban and ru­ral and fe­male and male.”

The cam­paign needed peo­ple to talk about it ev­ery­where – from class­rooms and play­grounds to stokvels and tav­erns.

“We must stunt stunt­ing to en­sure that Grow Great (Cam­paign) will in­deed grow great it­self and be­come a so­cial move­ment that will trans­form our so­ci­ety,” said Mot­sepe.

Stunted chil­dren on av­er­age per­form worse at school than their non­stunted coun­ter­parts, are more likely to be un­em­ployed as adults, are at higher risk of get­ting chronic dis­eases like di­a­betes and hy­per­ten­sion and are vul­ner­a­ble to be­ing trapped in in­ter­gen­er­a­tional cy­cles of poverty.

Dr Kopano Matlwa Mabaso, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Grow Great Cam­paign, said stunt­ing lev­els were ex­tremely high, even higher than in many poorer de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.


Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, ac­com­pa­nied by Min­is­ter of So­cial De­vel­op­ment Su­san Sha­bangu, pays a visit to the SA So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency (Sassa) Alexan­dra Lo­cal Of­fice in Jo­han­nes­burg. Sassa is a na­tional agency of the gov­ern­ment cre­ated in April 2005 in or­der to dis­trib­ute so­cial grants on be­half of the Depart­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment. The visit is part of Ramaphosa’s ef­forts to en­sure the gov­ern­ment de­liv­ers ser­vices with ef­fi­ciency and in­tegrity to the peo­ple. |

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