A ‘curse’ faced by over 2 million children under age 5 in Uganda

Uganda has one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world with 38% of infants under 5 years (2,000.000 children) affected. Malnutrition is the underlying cause of 60% of infant mortalities and 25% of mothers especially in the rural parts of the country. These remarks of the Minister of Agriculture, Professor Zerubaberi Nyiira while officiating at a consultative workshop on Nutrient Rich Food Crops in Nov 2012.

Most of the caregivers in rural households still lack food and knowledge in recommended nutrition practices. Food production has been affected by the unfavorable climatic conditions; lack of improved planting materials and farming equipment’s; low production due to low labor capacity and land holdings among many households and most importantly, lack of funds (capital). Food access itself has been limited due to poor access roads limiting movement of goods from one point to another and the low household incomes (poverty).

 The poor mechanisms of detecting low weight among children has exacerbated the situation leading to a large number of severely acute malnourished children, and thus has increased deaths registered. Health care service provision to malnourished children is also of great concern due to inadequacy of supplies, equipment and medical workers! Health systems are not working and need urgent attention.

Because health is “made at home” and not in the health centers, civil society organizations like ChildFund International, World vision among others have strived to promote food production and nutrition education at household level. Educating caregivers on nutritional practices but also enhancing agriculture production through supporting farmer groups and empowering households to increase household incomes is one way to go while being mindful of sustainability of the interventions.

If we truly believe that the children are the future and that the beautiful ones are not yet born, we should be feeling chills down our spines because we may never have a bright future and beautiful ones in the generations to come.

It is a high time everyone focuses on ensuring that the well being of our children and our own mothers is top of the agenda, otherwise the death of our children shall turn out to be a “curse” that shall never be forgotten.