The 2013 Namibia Demographic Health Survey indicates that 24% of Namibian children under the age of five are stunted, 6% are wasted and 48% suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Furthermore, an assessment conducted by the Ministry of Health and Social Services in the same year revealed that Namibia has only five qualified nutritionists serving all 14 regions.
It is statistics such as these that prompted the Ministry to call upon NUST to act to capacitate the nation by addressing nutritional needs.
Dr Bernard Haufiku, the Minister of Health and Social Services, said the country has sound policies and strategies to address the challenges in this sector, however, he added that proper implementation is lacking.
“We can only realise proper implementation of these policies if we have the skilled manpower and capacity in the country,” he said. Haufiku also used the platform to voice his opinion about the funding of public universities. “We must start and maintain the funding of national projects and programs, some in hygiene and sanitation. We must invest more in research for better and informed policies and decisions,” Haufiku stressed.
Micaela Marques de Sousa, the UNICEF Country Representative said that the objective of this MoU is to fill the vacuum in nutrition human resource in Namibia. “A lot of work has been done with NUST towards developing a curriculum for the degree course,” she said. The curriculum will have under-and post degree programmes, as well as tailor-made courses.
The NUST Vice-Chancellor, Dr Tjama Tjivikua, called upon other developmental partners to support the programme. “We are in the infancy of development and there is so much that we require with regards to funding of human resources, facilities, procurement of laboratory equipment and so on,” Tjivikua said.