- Children are not properly fed on protein
- Breastfeeding is a problem for many mothers due to lack of food
- The dilemma and ignorance exhibited is that some mothers still treat cases of malnutrition as curses and would therefore prefer to take their children to traditional healers instead of hospitals.
By Clement Aluma
Arua. As one enters the nutritional ward, there is grim image of children who are thin, looking pale, sunken eyes exposed and with brown hair.
They are comforted by their mothers who hold them tightly as they breastfeed them. Some of them are really weak that they need more support from the nurses. The ward is noisy with cries from the hungry children who need help.
And some of the mothers complain that there is not enough milk to feed their children from their breasts. And now they need additional support. Many of them walked several kilometers to access the health facilities to save the lives of their children.
But some of the mothers are also malnourished and this gives a task for the health staff to support both the mother and the child.
As West Nile Press Online sought reasons why there is increasing malnutrition among children and mothers, the officer in charge of the nutritional ward, Rita Ondoa, said: “Illiteracy, ignorance and poverty among mothers is the major cause of malnutrition in children.”
This, she said the mothers do not know which food to use and how frequent to give them to their children.
“It is important that mothers know what type of food supplements to give to children. Many of them rely on only cassava and potatoes which lack carbohydrates. But worse is that sometimes they do not have lunch and supper,” she said.
Sarah Munduru from Adumi Sub-county said: “What we give to the children is what we eat and so if you are financially handicapped to buy food, then there is no option. Even then breastfeeding is now a problem to me,” she said while holding her child.
In Arua hospital, majority of the patients in the nutrition ward are from Adumi and Pajulu Sub-counties of Ayivu County.
But though food is in abundance in majority of the homesteads in the district, parents prefer to sell it in the market to get money out of it than giving it to the children.
The Arua Referral Hospital nutrition ward which is being supported by MSF-France has a capacity of 30 beds but the overwhelming number of admissions has forced the authorities to devise other means making them to turn the feeding room into another ward.
Over thirty cases have been admitted since the beginning of this month as the hospital receives about 10 cases weekly.
FACTS ON NUTRITION
Nutrition is the intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs. Good nutrition–an adequate, well balanced diet combined with regular physical activity – is a cornerstone of good health. Poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development, and reduced productivity.
Malnutrition, in every form, presents significant threats to human health. Today the world faces a double burden of malnutrition that includes both under nutrition and overweight.