Ways to address the urgent issue of child stunting in South Africa will be discussed during a webinar to be held on Thursday 20 November. The webinar, hosted jointly by Food for Mzansi and the FairPlay movement, will look at urgent and longer-term interventions to address a health issue that afflicts more than 1.5 million South African children.
Some 27% of South African children under the age of 5 – more than one in four – suffer from stunting, which affects them both physically and mentally for the rest of their lives.
Stunting results from malnutrition in the first five years of a child’s life, and particularly in the first 1000 days.
“South Africa should be ashamed of this horrifically high incidence of stunting,” said Francois Baird, founder of the FairPlay movement.
“Stunting is preventable, which means that the country needs a much higher focus on slowing and then ending this scourge. We need to address malnutrition, particularly for children, and the poverty from which it results. And we need to address unemployment, which results in both poverty and malnutrition.”
Baird said that in addition to creating jobs, South Africa needed to prevent job losses. Predatory trade – imports designed to take over local markets – had cost thousands of jobs a spread misery in already impoverished rural areas.
Another webinar panelist will be Dr Kopano Mabaso, executive director of Grow Great, an organization dedicated to addressing stunting, which it calls South Africa’s “silent emergency”.
She believes that child stunting must be addressed as a threat to South Africa’s human capital. Because it limits the physical and mental growth of millions, it is a threat to our growth as a country.
Dr Marc Wegerif of the department of development studies at the University of Pretoria, will contribute to the discussion on food security and health legislation. Dr Wegerif says no country with such high levels of malnutrition and child stunting can claim to have food security. South Africa has plenty of food, but when millions cannot access that food, there is no food security.
The webinar is being held on the eve of National Children’s Day, which takes place on 20 November to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the international Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The webinar is on Thursday 19 November, from 2pm SAST. Members of the public will be able to pose questions to the panelist.
For the full webinar description visit the FairPlay website: http://fairplaymovement.org/webinar-our-stunted-children
To register for the webinar, please visit the Zoom registration page: https://bit.ly/2Iq7VH9
Issued by FairPlay Movement and Food for Mzansi17 November 2020