Nutrition support remains critical in Malawi

Agness David, 4, is measured for weight and height in Malawi where many children suffer from malnutrition. She is receiving nutritional support through the help of the Malawi United Methodist Church. Photo by Francis Nkhoma, UMNS.
Agness David, 4, is measured for weight and height in Malawi where many children suffer from malnutrition. She is receiving nutritional support through the help of the Malawi United Methodist Church. Photo by Francis Nkhoma, UMNS.

Malnutrition, especially among children ages 5 and younger, is an ongoing crisis in Malawi, but The United Methodist Church is helping to make a difference for both children and adults.

Agness David, 4, is an example. She was born HIV-positive. Her mother died in childbirth, and her father is not involved in her life. Agness’ aunt, who already had a large family, stepped in to care for the little girl. But because of poverty, Agness nearly died of chronic malnutrition.

Two years ago, the Malawi United Methodist Church started a nutrition program for children and adults. Thanks to that ministry, Agness is thriving today.

According to United Methodist nutrition program officer Maurice Solola, the nutrition clinic supplies food supplements such as peanut butter and soy flour. The clinic also conducts cooking demonstrations and offers nutrition presentations. Participants cite positive changes in their lives.

Selina Elijah, 40, from Manase Village, is a client. “I was bedridden for months and did not have an appetite,” she recalled. “I was about to die due to the lack of nutrition support. I’m much better now. The supplements have really helped me.”

She encouraged The United Methodist Church to continue reaching out to those for whom malnutrition is a daily threat.

The United Nations’ World Food Program recently hailed Malawi’s “remarkable progress in improving child health outcomes as evidenced by reduction in infant and under-5 mortality.”

However, the southeast Africa country continues to struggle with malnutrition.

“Currently,” the report continued, Malawi “has high levels of stunting among under-5 children, … an indication that chronic food and nutrition insecurity are still prevalent.” This continues to have a significant impact on education and health.

According to ReliefWeb, Malawi recently launched a National Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Policy, with support from the United Nations and other partners, to provide guidance on how to intensify efforts against malnutrition, said Atupele Muluzi, Malawi Minister of Health.

Maria Jose Torres, U.N. resident coordinator, told ReliefWeb the United Nations remains committed to supporting Malawi to improve nutrition of all people, including the most vulnerable and marginalized.

“We are glad to note that during the past two decades, Malawi has lowered stunting for under-5 children from 53 percent to 37 percent,” Torres said. “However, similar improvements are not reflected in the absolute number of children with chronic malnutrition.”

Solola urged partner organizations and individuals to help in the fight against malnutrition in Malawi.

“Our desire is to reach out to as many people as possible,” he said of The United Methodist Church in Malawi. “We are, however, limited by lack of … resources. The rate at which children are dying to malnutrition is devastating.”

Nkhoma is a communicator for the Malawi Provisional Conference.

News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.

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