His Majesty King Letsie III of the Kingdom of Lesotho has concluded his four day visit to Malawi with a call for the country to embrace multi sectoral approach in nutrition with greater coordination in order to end hunger and malnutrition.
The King, who is Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) special ambassador on nutrition, arrived in the country on Monday through Kamuzu International Airport.
He told a news conference at the end of his tour on Thursday that FAO is committed to ending malnutrition across the continent hence the need for coordinated efforts in fighting the same.
King Lestie III said Malawi is doing well in nutrition and as such he is taking with him lessons that can be a learning point in other countries.
Malawi is ranked second among 45 African countries that are doing well in fighting malnutrition.
He said the knowledge that he has got while visiting Malawi has made him a better ambassador for FAO and a better nutrition champion for the African Union (AU).
“My visit has been a productive one and I’m taking away with me good practices back home that can be replicated elsewhere,” he said.
He advised Malawians to continue with the good work that they are doing as far as nutrition is concerned.
As part of his program, the king visited Kasungu district where he interacted with community members and appreciated integrated homestead farming initiatives that are transforming the nutrition status of the local people.
“I visited Kasungu district yesterday (Wednesday) and I saw that farmers are committed and what they need is help and more resources. We just have to pursue the course and within a short period of time malnutrition will be history in the country,” he said.
Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi hailed the king’s visit saying it is one way of ensuring that there is political commitment to ending hunger and malnutrition.
“Because of policies made since 2004 we have managed to reduce malnutrition cases drastically. The king came to encourage us to continue with the trend especially when we have launched the nutrition policy,” he said.
He said much as Malawi has done well in nutrition, the country needs to scale up cases in addressing stunting in children so that they do well in class thereby advancing development and promote economic development.
Statistics indicate that 37 percent of children are stunted.
Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Jean Kalirani said her ministry is taking part in addressing nutrition through the Early Childhood (ECD) Policy and the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN).
United Nations in Resident coordinator Maria Jose Torres said Malawi is already making progress in the fight against malnutrition and as such needs support in its implementation process.
“There is a lot of progress and as such we have to continue making all possible efforts. It is important that the nutrition policy has been enacted to ensure that different sectors get resources and ensure that there is action,” she said.
First Lady Gertrude Mutharika on Wednesday launched the National Multi-Sector Nutrition Policy and Strategic Plan at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.
The UN Resident Coordinator believes that the Nutrition Policy will help in ending hunger and malnutrition and as such coordination and policy implementation should be attached to this effort in getting implementation down to the communities.
She, therefore, appealed for enhanced nutrition issues saying it is an enabler in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
During his visit, the king met President Prof Peter Mutharika, relevant stakeholders in nutrition, food security and agriculture including Members of Parliament, non governmental organisations, development partners, the Zero Hunger Board and the United Nations (UN).