By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard.
Kampala, Uganda: Findings indicate that Uganda registers high level of malnutrition particularly Northern region being the most affected a case in point Terego district.
Malnutrition refers to deficiencies or excesses in nutrient intake, imbalance of essential nutrients or impaired nutrient utilization.
Some of the outstanding results of malnutrition are stunting, anemia, low- birth weight, child-wasting and underweight and this is common in rural setting than urban areas.
This was revealed during a three-day Nutrition Symposium, 2022 in Kampala.
Stakeholders at the symposium highlighted that malnutrition is as a result of poor feeding that ends up causing Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) amongst community members there by straining health facilities.
Addressing journalists at the sidelines of the symposium, Hon. Margaret Muhanga- the state minister in charge of Primary Health Care (PHC) informed that they are recruit nutritionists at every level of Uganda’s Health Care starting with Village Health Team by training to cascade information related to health eating.
She cited that Uganda now suffer two problems among which are Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) especially in people who think they eat well yet they are getting diabetic, pressure and malnutrition mostly in children under five years.
She said malnutrition may not only mean lack of enough food to eat but may also be lacking information on nutritious food.
Minister Muhanga informed that they are going to work hand in hand with Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and Parliament to expedite Food Safety Law to safeguard health living amongst Ugandans.
Ms. Samalie Namukose- the Assistant Commissioner at Nutrition Division in the Uganda’s Ministry of Health stressed that malnutrition is a great vice to health living in the country.
She said that basing on the Uganda Panel Surveys that was conducted between 2019-2020, Child-wasting was at 2.6percent and stunting at 25 percent as a result of the vice.
Namukose informed that they have been able to record a drop in stunting from 25 percent to 24 percent all embedded in the ministry’s target of reducing stunting to 19 percent by the year 2025.
She highlighted issues like Low intake of food, some people develop malnutrition because there is not enough food available, or because they have difficulty in eating or absorbing nutrients, mental health conditions, Social and mobility problems, Digestive disorders and stomach conditions and others are some of the causes of malnutrition.
Research indicates that over 100,000 cases of children aged 6-59 months, and 12,000 cases of pregnant and lactating women are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition between February 2022 and January 2023 due to underlying situations.
Ms. Margarita Tileva- the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Deputy Country Representative said that, according to the organization, malnutrition is a big contributor of loss to Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product as the cost of funding nutritional challenges is more than the GDP, a matter if not addressed, will lead to more mortalities among children and mothers.
Representating Uganda’s Country Director of World Health Organization, Dr Kenneth Mutesasira revealed that 30 percent of deaths in Uganda are as a result of Non communicable Diseases (NCDs) and others are due to malnutrition.
He says, according to the 2021 global nutrition report, undernutrition accounts for about 45% of deaths among children under five, while the deaths due to poor diet and NCDS account for 26% of adult deaths globally having grown by 15% compared to the figure in 2010.
He noted that the joint child malnutrition estimates of 2021 by WHO, UNICEF and world bank, show that globally, 149.2 million children under the age of 5 years of age are stunted and 45.4 million are wasted. The report further reports that the number of children with stunting is declining in all regions except Africa.
For the case of Uganda, Mutesasira reports that WHO has managed to register a decline from 45% in 2000 to 29% in 2016, based on the demographic health surveys. Similarly wasting among children under five has reduced from 5% to 3.5%.
He revealed that Uganda has made some progress in reducing the malnutrition burden in the country. He added, despite these gains, Uganda is yet to register reductions in the diet related to NCDs and anaemia which is still a serious public health problem that particularly affects young children and pregnant women. One out of 3 deaths in Uganda are attributed to NCDS.
According to the 2016 Demographic Health Survey, 29 percent of children below the age of five years were stunted, 4 percent of them wasted, out of 5,418 sampled children, 11 percent were under weight, and 4 percent have more weight than their height.
Meanwhile, 53% of children within five years of age were anaemic. 32% of women and 16% of men aged 15 to 49 were anaemic.
However, the survey found out that 23 percent of children whose mothers are overweight or obese are less likely to be stunted than 29 percent of them whose mothers have a normal body mass index or are thin.
The 2022 Nutrition Symposium was organized by Uganda’s Ministry of Health in partnership with USAID, World Health Organization, UNICEF, Action Against Hunger, Right to Grow and World Vison, development partners and thers all aimed at fighting malnutrition.