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King calls for embedded nutrition against COVID-19

His Majesty King Letsie III

Sept. 19, 2020 3 min read

3 min read

HIS Majesty King Letsie III, as the African Union (AU) Nutrition Champion and the Champion of African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) has called on leaders to embed nutrition within their respective countries’ COVID-19 response and recovery action plans.

The King has issued a position paper titled, “Embedding Nutrition within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery”. The position paper which has been sent to all the AU member states calling on Heads of State and Governments to ensure the incorporation and promotion of nutrition smart interventions within COVID-19 response and recovery action plans.
The paper recommends that countries maintain and increase the level of funding allocated to nutrition to safeguard previous efforts to address malnutrition and ensure there are no gaps within their multi-year nutrition programmes in immediate, medium-term and post-pandemic recovery COVID-19 response plans.
“To effectively embed nutrition in the COVID-19 response and strategies calls for the prioritising of nutrition in the national health sector, food systems and social net response interventions,” the paper says.
It further highlights the role of high-level political leadership, in particular Heads of State and Government and Ministers of Finance, as Nutrition Champions saying these efforts coupled with a robust nutrition strategy will galvanise action into proper nutrition for children through the availability of nutritious foods for all.
It says proper nutrition is a vital component of the general health for both children and adults, adding that under-nutrition compromises immune systems, making bodies vulnerable to infection, reducing the effectiveness of vaccines, and impeding recovery and consequently stunting among children, low birth weight and wasting are existing challenges that have been affecting children in Africa leading to decreased productivity in adulthood.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created major global health and economic shocks, with unprecedented impacts on people’s health, nutrition and livelihoods as a result, Africa is experiencing negative economic growth, primarily as a result of the sharp decline in productivity, jobs and revenues.

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“At the same time, a recent data shows that Africa has the highest prevalence of malnutrition and may soon overtake Asia as the region with the fastest-growing number of hungry and undernourished people therefore, nutrition cannot be left behind in the COVID-19 response in Africa,” it adds.
Emphasis was that the COVID-19 pandemic is a chance for Africa’s leaders to reshape and spearhead high-level sensitisation, advocacy and resource mobilisation efforts towards securing increased investments in nutrition.
Studies show that over 820 million people from across the globe are under-nourished. They further indicate that 250 million of them are in Africa and 237 million of them live in the Sub-Saharan Africa.
Southern Africa is also counted among the regions in Africa that have an increasing prevalence of overweight and micro-nutrient deficiencies.
The AU bestowed the Nutrition Championship in Africa to King Letsie III in 2014 while the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) also honoured and appointed him as the FAO Special Ambassador for Nutrition in 2016.

In 2018 the World Bank appointed him as the Human Capital Champion.
Through the championships, the King is expected to advocate to Heads of State and Governments and high level policy makers on the continent for increased awareness, commitment and investment in nutrition for human capital development in Africa.


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