7 in 10 Children Severely Malnourished

By Juliana Mandha

I recently I led a team of Public Health students and nutritionists on a nutrition community outreach to launch of the Rotary Uganda Family Health Days

at Busabaga Health Center III, Buikwe district. We came to a stunning realisation that even in a predominantly agricultural community, there is severe malnutrition.

I mean… Buikwe possibly has some of the most fertile soils in the region; locals grow bananas, beans, maize and groundnuts and many other crops but it has malnutrition levels comparable to areas that were widely affected by famine like Karamoja region.

As we conducted anthropometric and clinical assessments for malnutrition among children (6 months to 15 years), we couldn’t help but be surprised by the 16.3% Global Acute Malnutrition rate. Remember WHO’s classification is 15%! 7 in 10 children were severely malnourished. Immediate response and intervention is required.

Besides the availability of food, all child caretakers should know the 5 W’s of child care.

  • Why nutrition is important for child growth and development
  • What practices and food types are needed at the different stages of child growth development
  • Where to seek appropriate health care services and advise
  • Who is responsible and accountable for the nutritional status of a child
  • When to feed and the frequency of feeding

To eradicate malnutrition in Uganda, a multi-sectoral intervention approach needs to be implemented through effective coordination and communication. All government sectors ranging from Agriculture, Social Protection, Health, Education, to Trade contribute to good child nutrition. As an African Proverb says, “it takes a village to raise a child”, so does nutrition.

The author of this article is a lecturer of Public Health Nutrition
Institute of Public Health and Management
International Health Sciences University.