Minister Advises on Child Nutrition
The Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Christine Amongin Aporu has advised parents to pay particular attention to nutrition and good feeding of their children.
"The issues that affect a child affect the future of the nation. The nation therefore needs to be aggressively addressed on children issues," Aporu said.
Aporu made the remarks Dec. 5 when she was officiating at the Child Day celebrations for Kumi district at Atutur sub-county.
The celebrations were organised by Nutrition and Early Childhood Development (NECD) project in conjunction with Ministry of Health and BASICS II project based in Kampala.
She said government is advocating a multi-faceted approach in handling children issues.
She complained that most parents in Teso don't care about their children yet they have enough food.
"Give children eggs. We have a lot of chicken," she said.
She warned parents against marrying off their young daughters. She told the parents to instead encourage their daughters to study.
"Our girls are very intelligent. The price of a girl increases according to her level of education and you can bargain for a higher price basing on the girl's education level," she argued.
Kumi Resident District Commissioner, David Masereka, said few people in Teso take more than two meals a day even when there is food.
Over 38% Uganda Children Stunted
MORE than 38% of Uganda children under the age of six are stunted, experts attending the National Nutrition and Early Childhood Development Project (CHILD) conference, at Hotel Africana, Kampala have said.
This means that half of Uganda's young children are below normal height for their age with insufficiently developed long bones.
"As a result, these children will never reach the average adult height," Dr. John Mutumba, the national co-ordinator of the project said yesterday.
The US$34m (about sh61.2b) project is sponsored by the World Bank.
Mutumba said, "Medical and education research and new findings in brain research indicate that half of a human being's intellectual development occurs before the age of four."
While opening the conference, state minister for primary health care Beatrice Wabudeya told the project coodinators that unless the issues of mental and physical development are addressed, the affected children will not only be physically stunted for the rest of their life, but will also never achieve their full mental potential.
The conference aimed at reviewing the progress in the implementation of the project so far, attracted ambassadors and the World Bank and United Nations representatives.
Wabudeya said the government wants to give Uganda children a healthy start as a strategy to improve the quality of children and the population as a whole.
"The Government and the World Bank are going to review the project in March and see whether it should be extended to other districts," she said.
"Through this project, the government will fulfil its commitment to the children as defined in the Uganda National Programme of Action for Children," she added.
Wabudeya said the Government is also contributing US$2m towards the project.
Malnutrition Rife in the North
SEATED on the lap of her mother, Grace Aciro cries weakly. The hair on her head is all but gone. Her bones are weak and her skin is too thin.
At eight months of age, Aciro weighs only 3.2 kilogrammes, not the 10 kilogrammes that a normal baby of her age should weigh. She has shrunk because she lacks a balanced diet to keep her healthy.
The little girl is one in the thousands of children in northern Uganda suffering from acute malnutrition. She was admitted to Gulu Hospital Nutrition Unit on February 27.
"On average, every month, we admit 30 children suffering from acute malnutrition," said Dr. Tom Otim, acting medical superintendent of the hospital. Because of the prolonged rebellion in the region food production had slumped. This means poor nutrition for children. The population relies heavily on humanitarian aid.
Otim said: "Malnutrition is caused by poor feeding. Here in the north this is mainly because of the prolonged war. People cannot produce enough sim-sim and groundnuts to feed the children."
By last week, over 30 malnourished children were undergoing therapeutic feeding. On average, a child is admitted each day. Doreen Ongom, in-charge of the child nutrition unit, says the number of malnourished children usually rises between May and July. That is the period when there is acute food shortage in the villages.
On admission, the children are fed on formula milk supplied by UNICEF. When they stabilise, they then start eating porridge and peanut butter before resuming family foods like beans, groundnut sauce and fish.
"We feed them every three hours," said Ongom, adding that some of the children are brought to hospital on the threshold of death: "In January we lost three of them. The parents took long to bring them here."
Most of the children admitted are aged between six months and five years. But some as old as 10 years are also taken in. Each of them takes about three weeks to one-and-a-half months to be discharged.
"After discharging, we keep giving them foodstuffs like soya bean flour, sugar and cooking oil for six months," Ongom said. Some of the items are supplied by the World Food Programme (WFP). However, the hospital also supplements the ration.
A report released by the WFP indicates that many adolescents in displaced people's camps in Gulu, Kitgum and Pader districts are underweight due to poor feeding.
For instance, the report states that in Anaka Camp (Gulu) alone, over 31% of the children less than five years old are suffering from acute malnutrition. A similar scenario is happening in Pabbo Camp where 18% are in dire need of good feeding to salvage their health.
"Before 1980s we never had malnutrition in Gulu. All these problems are because of the insurgency. Unless there is peace, malnutrition will become chronic," said Ongom.
Rose Ato, mother of Aciro said her husband, Jackson Kilama, a pit latrine digger, could not raise enough money to buy food. They are displaced at Unyama.
"This is the second of my children to be admitted suffering from malnutrition," narrated the mother of six, adding: "We don't have food to feed the children."
They have the appetite but not the food.
200 Million Africans Malnourished - Report
President Yoweri Museveni has expressed disappointment on learning that about 200 million people in Africa are undernourished.
"I am enormously distressed that 200 million Africans remain hungry and malnourished. "It is we Africans who must act to meet our food and nutrition needs in a sustainable way," he said.
Museveni was speaking at the preparatory meeting for the Africa Conference on Assuring Food and Nutrition Security in Africa by 2020 at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Thursday. The meeting was chaired by the Director General of International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Dr Joachim von Braun.
A recent report by IFPRI indicates that since 1990, the number of undernourished Africans has increased by 15 percent. Museveni said Africans must speak with a loud voice against the protectionism in Europe, USA and Japan, which restricts the free entry of food products from developing countries to the large lucrative markets in the west. He said that opposing protectionism is the only way poor countries will ensure a sustainable food policy.
Dr Braun said that more than 90 percent of the undernourished people are in Sub-Saharan Africa and one third or 33 million of pre-school children are malnourished.
He said the transition from hunger to health has not been achieved since nutrition related chronic diseases are on the rise due to inappropriate diets and lifestyles. He said famine is exacerbated by persistent conflicts which continue to stalk Africa.
New Rice Variety Here
UGANDA has the potential to produce the New Rice for Africa (NERICA) in the East African region.
NERICA is a hybrid rice variety developed from the African and Japanese rice.
The World Bank and Japanese Government identified the opportunity for Uganda to become a hub in the East African region.
A meeting to this effect was held at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel this week between the World Bank vice president, Yukio Yoshimura and the Japanese delegation led by Kazuo Kodama.
"NERICA is doing well in Western Africa. The Japanese Government and World Bank are interested in promoting the variety in the whole of the African continent," Yoshimura said.
The team visited Masindi to assess how their respective institutions could support the spread of the rice variety in Uganda and later in the region.
The presidential advisor on agriculture and veterinary, John Otim, said National Agricultural Research Organization had already started to popularize the variety among farmers.