European Union (EU) and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW)
introduced a food fortification opportunity for nutrition sensitive food system
in The Gambia to overcome under-nutrition, at a ceremony held at the Senegambia
Beach Hotel on Wednesday.
In his remarks, Darrell Sexstone, programme manager for Agriculture Food and Nutrition security, climate change and institutional support at the EU delegates, said the effect of poor nutrition represents one of the most serious and preventable tragedies of the time.
He said millions of children survive but grow up stunted with a low height for their age and impaired mental development.
Globally, he added, 165 million children are suffering from this problem and 2.6milllion children under the age of five die annually as a result of under-nutrition, which affects 90% of Africa and Asia.
He added that under-nutrition mostly affects poor people which undermines their learning ability leaves them prone to disease and illness.
“It also hinders the child’s capacity to secure a brighter future,” he said, adding that many women in developing countries are short in stature and underweight.
He continued saying that in 2012 the London Global Hunger Event and the European Union Commission made a commitment to support partner counties in reducing the rate of stunted growth in children including in The Gambia.
Also in 2013, the commission issued a communication on Maternal and Child Nutrition in the EU, aimed at achieving the target to reduce overall maternal and child under-nutrition.
“The EU is the major financial actor in terms of food and nutrition security allocated toward the rural development, territorial planning, and sustainable agriculture and food nutrition security amounted over 1 billion Euro to assist countries with food crises and in meeting MDG goals for people suffering from hunger and Gambia is no exception,” he added.
He stated that EU traditional development assistance continues in transferring cash and supplementary feeding for pregnant and lactating mothers.
“Addressing this problem is part of UN agreement of SDG and MDG goals,” he said.
Pa Modou Cheyassin Phall, Executive Director of NaNa, said the project was initiated to add fortification in the daily food, especially the macronutrients missing in the diet consumed by a high proportion of the population.
“The fortification project will help the Government of The Gambia to overcome under-nutrition, especially in children and women,” he said.
He added that most children are suffering from anemia, vitamin A deficiency, iodine disorder and the deficiency that affects the brain but the Gambia government has taken precautions way back in 1992 from this project, the implementation of which would see children do well at school, have fewer infections and lower the rate of mortality.