Tanzania highlights adolescent nutrition during National Nutrition Day
The Government of Tanzania commemorated National Nutrition Day by highlighting the importance of adequate adolescent nutrition in reducing anaemia rates and empowering the country’s youth to realize their full potential.
Posted on October 30, 2023
Mkurunga, TANZANIA. Today, the Government of Tanzania observed National Nutrition Day with a special focus on adolescent nutrition, driven by the recent launch of Nutrition International’s action advocacy campaign With Good Nutrition, She’ll Grow Into It. In embracing the campaign, Tanzania became the first country to launch the initiative at the national level since the continental campaign was first announced in March 2023. With the theme ‘Lishe Bora kwa Vijana Balehe, Chachu ya Mafanikio Yao’ (Good Nutrition for Adolescents is Key to Reaching Full Potential), this year’s celebration highlights the essential role nutrition plays in empowering Tanzania’s youth to reach their full potential.
Africa is home to more than 250 million adolescents, the largest cohort of young people the world has ever seen. Yet, despite the importance of adequate nutrition for the development and wellbeing of adolescents, they continue to experience high rates of malnutrition.
“An estimated 30% of adolescent girls in Africa are affected by anaemia, with approximately half of those cases being related to iron deficiency,” said Lucy Murage, Regional Advisor for Adolescent Nutrition, Nutrition International. “Iron-deficiency anaemia impacts adolescent physical wellbeing and cognitive functioning, compromises school performance, reduces productivity and affects current and future reproductive health.”
Tanzania serves as a prime example of this issue, where the Pwani, Mwanza, Tabora, and Simiyu regions report anaemia prevalence rates exceeding 48%, surpassing the national average of 34.1%. During adolescence, girls have an increased requirement for iron due to menstrual blood loss. Additionally, gender barriers including limited access to nutritious foods, unequal resource distribution and cultural norms, often compound these challenges.
“We and our partners… are committed to supporting the Government of Tanzania through technical and financial assistance to strengthen key policies.
— Bernard Makene, Senior Program Officers, Nutrition International
Through the With Good Nutrition, She’ll Grow Into It campaign, the African Union is calling on African policymakers, donors, and health and nutrition partners to increase investments and prioritize adolescent nutrition in policies and plans. In embracing the campaign, the Government of Tanzania is reaffirming its commitment to supporting adolescents with the nutrition they need to thrive. During the National Nutrition Day events, adolescent girls from the Tabora region were given the opportunity to share their own stories and experiences, providing insights into the impact anaemia and malnutrition on their lives.
“The campaign aims to improve the health, wellbeing and empowerment of girls in Africa through nutrition, by creating an environment for adolescent girls to raise and amplify their voices for their views, opinions, hopes and dreams to be heard,” explained Murage. “The message is simple: girls can become anything and everything they want to be and good nutrition is critical to helping them get there.”
The Government of Tanzania has demonstrated unwavering commitment to eliminating all forms of malnutrition in the country. Improved nutrition during adolescence translates to more opportunities in adulthood, higher economic development contributions, lower costs of healthcare and better birth outcomes, breaking the intergenerational impacts of poverty and malnutrition.
With the support of Nutrition International, key policies and plans have been developed, such as the National Accelerated Action & Investment Plan for Adolescent Health and Wellbeing and the National Multisectoral Nutrition Action Plan II, which address key interventions to improve adolescent nutrition.
“We and our partners, including the Eastern, Central and Southern Africa Health Community Secretariat, are committed to supporting the Government of Tanzania through technical and financial assistance to strengthen key policies, such as the Adolescent Nutrition Advocacy Strategy,” said Bernard Makene, Senior Program Officer, Nutrition International.
Tanzania’s action plan in the strategy calls for a multisector approach in implementing the plan, with the next step being to translate these well-formulated policies and plans into action.