Dr Tshepo Motsepe has expressed concern at the rising levels of childhood obesity and stunted growth.
“By some estimates, by 2025, 3.61 million schoolchildren in South Africa will be clinically obese – a daunting prospect by any measure,” Motsepe said.
Motsepe, the spouse of President Cyril Ramaphosa, was speaking at the 2019 Child Health Priorities Conference, at the North West University, on Thursday.
Motsepe said some attribute obesity to the rising income levels in the working class, the adoption of Western-style eating habits and the rapid spread of consumerism.
“On the other hand, we also know that the cheapest food is often the unhealthiest, and with limited disposable income and lack of access to nutritious food, often the easiest. This contradiction highlights something we all know: that interventions to address child health must be holistic and integrated,” she said.
According to government’s 25 Year Review, the lives of children today are fundamentally better than they were during apartheid.
“Through the provision of free primary healthcare; the provision of lifesaving medication including anti-retroviral treatment; through the Primary Schools Nutrition Programme; through the provision of free basic and secondary education; through transformative, progressive and pro-family social welfare policies; and perhaps most of all through the social wage; we have invested – substantially invested in the health, nutrition, well-being, and education of our young people so that they can reach their full developmental potential,” she said.
Government recently released the 25 year review which charts South Africa’s progress as a country in meeting the needs of our citizens, in alleviating poverty and in addressing inequality.
Motsepe called upon delegates at the conference and their organisations to support government’s campaign to end gender-based violence and femicide.
“Nothing, nothing can ever justify the mistreatment, neglect or abuse of a child. Nothing can ever justify the abuse of women and girls.
“We will not be a society where a child is treated as a disposable, dispensable and lacking the rights of a full human being. Nor a society where women’s rights are undermined and violated,” she said.
On Monday, the President launched the annual 16 Days of Activism of No Violence against Women and Children campaign in Lephalale in Limpopo.
“A recent report by the South African Medical Research Council found that homicide was the second most common cause of death and it affected children of all ages, with the highest burden (52.8%) in the 15-17-year age group.
“Child abuse and neglect accounted for 11.3% of deaths. The rape and sexual abuse of children has become widespread and disturbingly prevalent across the country,” Motsepe said. – SAnews.gov.za