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 Kamwenge residents tasked to intensify efforts on fighting malnutrition

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Legislators of Uganda Parliamentary Alliance on Food and Nutrition Security have urged residents in Kamwenge district to intensify efforts of fighting malnutrition, after a survey placed Kamwenge as the district with the second highest number of malnutrition cases in Uganda.

The lawmakers made the appeal while addressing residents at Biguri Town Council during the assessment of the burden of malnutrition in Kamwenge district.

“Stunting is brought on by prolonged periods of not having enough nutrients in the bodies and this is due to the fact that nutrition is very poor from pregnancy up to five years that is where the problem is. When you compare our stunting levels, they’re far beyond 30%, we are above. Even when you compare with the national levels at 26% and you can see at Kamwenge, we are at 41%. If there is a delay to seek management services, in some cases we lose them. Where I work, averagely, we lose 2-4 children in a year. For severe malnutrition cases, we have 1-2 cases a week, totaling to 6-10 in a month and when you multiply by 12 months, it’s usually 36-38 cases in a year,” Emmanuel Tumusiime, Nutritionist at Rukunyu Hospital.

Tumusiime also explained that the kind of malnutrition in Kamwenge is chronic, as it starts way back from pregnancy, and it’s carried into adulthood and if the same malnourished adults conceive, there are high chances of them giving birth to stunted babies

Tumusiime explained, “When we study about stunting, it is a generational problem. A mother who doesn’t feed well, will give birth to an underweight baby who will grow into an adult who is underweight and that underweight adolescent will become a malnourished mother, who will not grow well the embryo again now at pregnancy, you find that cycle continues. Because when the body isn’t well developed, you will find that the fetus will also not develop well.”

Robert Kato, Senior Clinical Officer at Buguri Health Center III in Kamwenge district said that as they are concentrating on under nutrition, there are also cases of over nutrition. 

“Sometimes we have 14 cases of children who are malnourished, so this is a significant number that should be well addressed. The good thing is that for clients who come to us with cases of HIV or Tuberculosis, malnutrition is subsiding, but for the community, we need a common approach that is aggressive to get these clients from the community,” Robert Kato said.

Stanley Mwesige, Village Health Team (VHT) in Buguri Town Council decried that whenever the residents harvest paw paws, all they think about is selling them. If they get eggs, instead of preparing it for the children to eat, they sell them in the market and buy pancakes for the kids.

“The residents have the food, but they don’t know how to prepare this food to benefit the kids. The parents don’t know that they can prepare lunch, supper, breakfast and change the foods like posho, matooke, all they do is cook food once for the week, they prepare matooke or cassava that they feed on the whole week,” Mwesige said.

He attributed the high malnutrition rates to poverty noting, “Many of the parents struggle to raise income and they ask us, if I give the kids eggs, where will I get money to buy salt? That is why some of them prefer selling the eggs. We would like Government and Parliament to send professional people to Kamwenge to teach people on how to prepare food for the children to come to the villages and teach our people on how to prepare nutritious food for the children.”

Milton Muwuma Chairperson Uganda Parliamentary Alliance on Food & Nutrition Security said that there is a lot of food production going on but the way it is consumed calls for awareness creation.

Muwuma said, “People have food, but most of the food is sold to get money, instead of retaining some food for domestic consumption, so we need to encourage farmers to do domestic gardening where some vegetables and fruits are missing. People can consume cassava or matooke for a full week, so we need to advise them that it isn’t about the quantity of what you can consume but the quality matters a lot for us to minimize on the cost of treatment because if you eat well, food is medicinal it can help in boosting the immunity of the bodies,”

“We found teenage mothers, a girl of 15-16 years being pregnant, this threatens her life specifically when it comes to giving birth, she has got maternal challenges she is bound to face, but also the care is wanting because the girl is living with her parents who feel this is an extra burden, we should do some more awareness about girls remaining in school because some of them are stunted and end up producing underweight babies. We need to salute Kamwenge because the national figures given don’t tally with what is on ground, so Kamwenge district began scanning, screening and documenting what other districts aren’t doing,” added Muwuma.

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