Although Tanzania has made some good progress in addressing the problem of undernutrition in children, the pace of improvement, especially for stunting has been slow, with data showing that the prevalence of stunting reduced from about 50 percent in 1992 to about 34 percent in 2015/16. This current level of stunting is categorized as “severe” in terms of its public health significance and is above the 30 percent average observed for Africa. Moreover, a double burden of malnutrition has emerged where undernutrition exists together with a rapidly increasing problem of diet-related noncommunicable diseases (DRNCDs), especially overweight, obesity, hypertension and type -2 diabetes that have doubled in adults during the last decade. This is despite the existence of evidence based high impact nutrition interventions, a strong political commitment to address undernutrition and a robust economic growth of about 7 percent for the last decade.
One of the key challenges in the slow progress in reducing malnutrition has been national capacity at all levels to translate the political will and commitment into evidence-based, effective, impactful and sustainable policies, strategies and actions that are at scale, multisectoral, well-coordinated, integrated, resourced and monitored. To address this challenge, the Government strengthened its leadership in nutrition and took several steps in recent years. This included the launching of the National Nutrition Strategy (NNS) 2011/12-2015/16, the inclusion of nutrition in national planning and budgeting and the formation of a Multisectoral High-Level Steering Committee on Nutrition (HLSCN) to ensure participation of key nutrition stakeholders. The HLSCN is chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office with members being the Permanent Secretaries of several key nutrition sensitive ministries, Development Partners, Civil Society Organizations and representatives from the private sector. Nutrition Steering Committees at the Regional and Local Government Authorities have also been formed to facilitate nutrition planning, budgeting and participation of key stakeholders at those levels. While this has been an important step towards building leadership and strategic guidance at the national level, the lack of capacity for implementation at ‘all levels’ remains an impediment.
Recently, the Government, with the support of partners, developed the 2016 Food and Nutrition Policy. This National Multisectoral Nutrition Action Plan (NMNAP) is the Policy’s strategic implementation action plan for the period 2016/17-2020/2. The NMNAP is evidence-informed, results-oriented, consistent with the theory of change and based on the three ONES principle of the Scaling-up of Nutrition (SUN) Movement at all levels: one plan, one coordinating mechanism and one monitoring and evaluation framework. It also provides for an effective framework for common results, resources and accountability for nutrition. The NMNAP has identified the following seven key results areas: (i) scaling-up maternal, infant, young child and adolescent nutrition (ii) scaling up prevention and control of micronutrient deficiencies, (iii) scaling up integrated management of acute malnutrition (iv) scaling up prevention and management of diet related non-communicable diseases (DRNCDs), (v) integration of multisectoral nutrition sensitive interventions, (vi) improving nutrition governance, and (vii) establishing a multisectoral nutrition information system. The NMNAP’s objectives are to meet the World Health Assembly nutrition targets on undernutrition, the UN targets on Diet Related NonCommunicable Diseases (DRNCDs) and localizing the global nutrition-relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) towards eliminating malnutrition as a problem of public health significance by 2030.