Feb 15, 2010, 6:10 PM
The National Nutrition Policy for The Gambia for 2010 to 2020 has just been validated by stakeholders. The validation of this important national document is a step in the right direction and we must commend the stakeholders for the initiative.
A well-balanced diet is the most important requirement for healthy living. Good nutrition helps reduce our risk of getting a large number of diseases, from diabetes to heart disease.
The quest for a good nutrition is a basic building-block of human capital and as such, contributes to social and economic development.
A healthy diet helps to prevent, or reduce the severity of diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. A healthy diet may also help to reduce the risk of developing some cancers. Also, a main way of combating obesity and overweight is to eat a healthy diet
Malnutrition undermines economic growth, thus consequently brings about poverty. Persistent malnutrition has contributed immensely to the failure to meet the MDGs of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equity, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
It is now quite apparent that nutrition is a crucial component of any development plan and should be made central to development, so that a wide range of economic and social improvements that depend on nutrition can be achieved.
This policy helped greatly as it provides the necessary legal and institutional framework for nutrition planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and coordination in the country. The policy would no doubt contribute immensely towards reducing the burden of malnutrition and improving the health and nutritional status of the country in general.
Our revised Nutrition Policy includes emerging issues and those that were not adequately addressed in the first policy, such as Nutrition and HIV/AIDS, Nutrition in Schools and Emergency Situations, Nutrition in relation to the Food Control System, Resource Mobilisation and Research in Nutrition. Also, issues or themes in the first policy that are still relevant in combating malnutrition are maintained.
Freedom from hunger and malnutrition is a basic human right and their alleviation is a fundamental prerequisite for human development.
Better nutrition means stronger immune system, less illness and better health. Healthy children learn better, healthy people are stronger, and more productive and more able to create opportunities to gradually break the vicious cycles of both poverty and hunger in a more sustainable way.
To be adequately nourished, individuals need to have access to sufficient and good quality food and they need an understanding of what constitutes a good diet for health, as well as the skills and motivation to make good food choices.
Malnutrition is a major impediment to the attainment of socio-economic development, and as such needs to be adequately addressed if the country is to achieve its Millennium Development Goals.
We applaud the government for the foresight in updating the National Nutrition Policy to include emerging issues and those that were not adequately addressed in the first policy.
We encourage the authorities to continue working with all relevant key stakeholders during the course of the implementation of this very important policy.
"You cannot achieve environmental security and human development without addressing the basic issues of health and nutrition."
Gro Harlem Brundtland