Friday, September 25, 2015

Tanzania's Sharp decline in Child Stunting

By Esther Nakkazi
Tanzania's average annual rate of reduction in stunting from 2010 to 2014 is approximately 5 percent—faster than the nearly 4 percent annual rate required to meet the World Health Assembly target says the Global Nutrition Report 2015 which is a report card on the world’s nutrition—globally, regionally, and country by country—and on efforts to improve it.

In this chapter written by Lawrence Haddad exploring what is behind Tanzania'a sharp decline in child stunting he attributes it to no definitive, in-depth analysis of the factors behind the improvement in child growth, but offers several clues.

The report shows that the rates of child stunting in Tanzania, though still high, have fallen sharply in the past few years. Three national surveys in 2004, 2009, and 2010 showed a static rate of stunting at 44–43 percent, whereas two later national surveys—in 2011 and 2014—show rates of 35 percent (IFPRI 2014).

Stunting in Tanzania fell as shown in the 2006 study from the Kagera region using four rounds of survey data from 1991–1994, which showed that a combination of income gains and health program interventions was most effective at accelerating stunting rate declines in that part of Tanzania at that time (Alderman et al. 2006).

From 2010 to 2014, thinness in women of reproductive age declined from 11 to 6 percent, vitamin A supplementation rates increased from 61 to 72 percent, and iron-folate supplementation during pregnancy increased from 3.5 to 8.3 percent. 

On the other hand, exclusive breastfeeding rates declined from 50 to 41 percent, rates of infants and young children with minimum acceptable diets are flat at 20 percent, and the percentage of house- holds using iodized salt declined from 82 to 64 percent.

Undernourishment rates declined modestly, from 41 percent in 2000 to 35 percent in 2014. Access to improved water and sanitation in 2012 remained low at 53 percent and 22 percent, respectively—not much changed from their rates in 2000 (54 percent and 15 percent, respectively) (IFPRI 2014).

Rates of $1.25-a-day poverty almost halved—from 85 to 43percent—between 2000 and 2012 (World Bank 2015).

The Tanzanian government’s spending on health increased substantially between 2008 (US$383 million) and 2014 (US$622 million) (West-Slevin and Dutta 2015).

In conclusion, the Global Nutrition report says strong reductions in poverty, allied to modest changes in underlying determinants and program coverage, backed with strong commitments by government and external partners—manifest in increased funding—are potential explanations for the declines in stunting. Lawrence Haddad says more research is needed for a more definitive answer.

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