Tendai Rupapa in Matabeleland North
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday launched a supplementary feeding programme at Ntabazinduna Clinic in Matabeleland North where she donated several tonnes of corn-soya blend porridge to alleviate malnutrition among children.
According to reports by the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Matabeleland North has one of the highest levels of malnutrition in the country, especially among the under-fives.
The First Lady, who is the Ambassador of Maternal and Child Health, has been visiting communities across Zimbabwe promoting healthy living among citizens.
She said the cornsoya blend porridge was highly nutritious and that the feeding programme would be introduced in all the country’s provinces.
“I am honoured to be part of this event of handover of supplementary food for the vulnerable children in this province because Mat North is one of the provinces hard hit with high levels of malnutrition in the country, especially among children below the age of five,” said the First Lady.
“In response to this, I, as the First Lady, has embarked on a high nutrient porridge programme which I am launching here in this province which will be replicated in all the provinces where malnutrition is high.
“The cornsoya blend porridge I have brought is highly nutritious and it will enhance nutritional levels amongst children in need of this porridge. I am encouraging you to have this porridge prepared at clinics and have children fed there.
“Poor feeding practices are one of the contributors of malnutrition in children, causing them sickness and in extreme cases, death. Therefore, in this province we have an uphill task of feeding our children other foods in addition to breast milk.”
The First Lady said communities should be involved in the fight against malnutrition among children so that everyone appreciates the importance of eliminating the condition.
“All family members need to be involved in ensuring that our children get nutritious foods for their optimum growth and development,” she said.
“Together we can achieve success and ensure adequate nutrition food security and poverty reduction in the generations to come. Let us work together towards a Zimbabwe free from hunger, poverty and malnutrition.”
The First Lady emphasised the importance of breastfeeding.
“I want to highlight that breastfeeding is the foundation of life and nutritious foods need to be fed to our children after the exclusive breastfeeding period,” she said. “Let us breastfeed our children.
“The Government and a number of non-governmental organisations and development partners have demonstrated their commitment towards eliminating the nutrition challenges in the country through initiating countrywide supplementary programmes.
“The Sustainable Development Goals No. 2 and 3 call upon us to ensure adequate nutrition, especially looking at children under the age of six years.”
The First Lady encouraged women in Matabeleland North to get screened for breast and cervical cancer.
Through the Angel of Hope Foundation, of which she is the patron, the First Lady has been leading in the fight against cancer by urging women to get screened for cervical and breast cancer early.
“Cancer has ravaged the lives of our mothers,” she said. “The provincial medical director has been telling me that we do not have cancer screening here in Mat North.
“I was touched because cancer does not have signs to show, and if not screened early, you will get to know about it when it is at the last stage. Our women are dying of cancer which is a silent killer disease. I will engage the Ministry of Health and also the President himself so that they help us to have some screening done here. If detected early, it can be cured.”
The First Lady introduced her clean homes campaign in the province, as part of her drive to promote cleanliness and hygienic practices to curtail the spread of water-borne diseases.
The First Lady, who has won the 2018 Matter Humanitarian Award, expressed concern over the rise in child marriages.
“We want the girl child to go to school,” she said. “Marrying off under-aged girls will actually bring problems to the families. Vana baba tokumbirasawo kuti vana vayende kuchikoro vapedze chikoro vorega kukurumidza kuzowanikwa.
“Children should grow up and mature before getting married. Women should refuse to marry off their daughters. If we marry our children early, the problem will always come back to us women.”
Speaking at the same occasion, Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Richard Moyo thanked the First Lady for launching the nutrition programme in the province.
He said the programme will go a long way in reducing cases of acute and chronic malnutrition.
“This is one of your many activities and programmes which are under the Angel of Hope Foundation banner which this province has benefited from,” he said.
“What makes your programmes so important is that they are in line with President Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030 goals and aspirations which include guaranteed national food security, affordable, competitive and accessible health and education services to our people.”
Matabeleland North provincial medical director Dr Pugie Tawanda Chimberengwa expressed gratitude for the First Lady’s interventions in the province.