Ms Zamazulu Mtshali (extreme right) at the
info4africa/MRC KZN Community Forum.

Nutrition – a vital component of all public health strategies – was the focus of a presentation by the Deputy Manager for the Integrated Nutrition Programme (INP) at the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, Ms Zamazulu Mtshali.

Mtshali was speaking at a recent info4africa/MRC KZN Community Forum.

info4Africa is a self-funded Centre at the School of Applied Human Sciences within UKZN’s College of Humanities.

‘The Integrated Nutrition Programme works towards improving the nutritional status of all South Africans, through the implementation of integrated programmes and initiatives,’ said Mtshali. ‘The programme’s approach also includes monitoring which is used as a way to better target resources where they are needed most.’

Mtshali said nutritional transition existed in KwaZulu-Natal, with the existence of both under and over-nutrition. ‘Within the context of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and coupled with food insecurity, the province faces a unique set of challenges.’

She said 1 in 20 children in KwaZulu-Natal died before their fifth birthday, and of those, 38% died outside of the health service, 55% died in association with HIV/AIDS and 33% had suffered underlying severe malnutrition.

Mtshali’s presentation also showed how, through a series of primary and secondary interventions, the Department had created target groups which received priority attention through a set of important intervention programmes.

These groups include children aged 0 to 23 months and children between 2 to 14.

‘Over the years, significant gains have been made with regards to scaling up nutrition, with the development of policies and guidelines for the implementation of nutrition strategies and there is now a renewed focus on specific priority groups for nutrition interventions to have a bigger impact,’ she said.

This focus on nutrition contributes to bigger health sector priorities, which include: increasing life expectancy; decreasing infant and maternal mortality; combating HIV/AIDS and decreasing the burden of disease from TB and improving health care programme effectiveness.

Guided by the provincial Growth and Development Plan and the Department of Health’s General Health Strategy, the Department works closely with both private and public sector stakeholders to overcome these unique challenges.

The info4africa/MRC KZN Community Forum is hosted each month and showcases important research and developments in health, wellbeing and socio-economic development in South Africa.

The forums are open to the public.