Beaven Dhliwayo Features Writer
In the recent past, the health and nutrition of adolescents are becoming global priorities. There are over 1,2 billion adolescents aged 10 to 19 in the world and nearly a quarter of the people in Sub-Saharan Africa are within that age group.Different stages of the life cycle command differing nutrient needs. Due to the spurting of growth that occurs in adolescence, several nutrients are at greater deficiency risk, including calcium and iron.
To develop to their optimal potential, it is vital that adolescents choose nutritionally sound diets. This may spell the difference between health and risk of disease in later years.Adolescents themselves have the best understanding of young people’s needs, how to address them and how to get them involved.
Because of this, youth voices can be an incredibly powerful force for bringing about the changes they want to see.This calls for participatory and collaborative processes from everyone to engage adolescents and promote their voices.Achieving the United Nations (UN) Global Goals, precisely goal two, which advocates zero hunger and goal three, which calls for good health and well-being, require collective action.
Just like the UN says, Zimbabwe should leave no one behind in the fight to end malnutrition.Towards this end, the Rural Enterprise Trust of Zimbabwe has embarked on a massive drive to recruit nutrition champions in schools in Mashona-land Central.RETZ is a private non-political, non-profit organisation created in 2014 to respond to the needs of Zimbabweans.Child malnutrition remains a major crisis in Zimbabwe, with little attention being given towards allocating more financial resources to fight under-nourishment.
Despite being the major victims of malnutrition, adolescents and grassroots communities do not have platforms to raise their voices on the need to increase nutrition financing and improve community-based nutrition service delivery.
There is little or no food and nutrition information to guide the design of relevant nutrition interventions, assessment of progress made by ongo-ing nutrition initiatives and ensure improved nutrition service management and coordination among local communities in the country.
Hence, there is need for continuously engaging and capacitating children who are the most affected.As a country, there is need to amplify the voices of adolescents and also prioritise the investing and allocations of resources towards nutrition.Food and nutrition issues have a huge and lasting impact of on children.
Going forward, reading, writing and arithmetic should not be the only things the country’s children should be learning at their respective schools.Schools are crucial as the custodians of children to continue helping pupils in learning the importance of healthy eating through balanced meals and nutrition education.