Existing Workforce nutrition policies in Uganda and opportunities for improvement

Malnutrition in all its forms, from undernutrition to micronutrient deficiencies and overnutrition, is a global public health burden. It is estimated that 2 in 3 women of reproductive age are affected by nutrient deficiencies.

Uganda is a low-income country in which 41% of the population lives below the poverty line, and where about 82% of the population cannot afford a healthy diet. There is a continued need to engage all actors and options to address the malnutrition burden the world faces. On average, people spend one-third of their adult lives at work, whether formal or informal; therefore, the workplace offers an important opportunity to increase access to and knowledge about healthy nutrition. Workforce nutrition is an opportunity to deliver proven benefits for employers, workers, and communities.

A definition and framework for workforce nutrition can be found here. In recent years, Uganda has taken some critical steps to enable improved nutrition for the wider population by introducing the Presidential Initiative on Healthy Eating and Healthy Lifestyle, the Uganda Nutrition Action Plan 2020-2025, and the Nutrition Advocacy and Communication Strategy (NACS II) 2020-2025.

However, policy frameworks often do not recognise the role of employers in enabling good nutrition for workers, even as part of labour policies. Further improved action in the policy arena would include explicitly mentioning the role of the employer and drafting, implementing and ensuring accountability mechanisms against these policies are in place. Such action could help start or scale up existing workforce nutrition programmes and contribute to addressing the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing), SDG 5 (gender equality), and SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth).