Tuesday, 29 March 2011

MALNUTRITION: Uganda: Experts raise red flag on malnutrition levels

Stephen Wandera & Eve Mashoo : March 25 2011

Population experts have raised a red flag on the high rates of malnutrition, warning that unless immediate intervention measures are taken, Uganda is lying in a death trap.
It is estimated that about 2.3 million children are chronically malnourished and this affects their brains.
“Soon we are going to have these malnourished children with weak brains grow to become part of our labour force,” Dr John S. Ssebuliba, the National Planning Authority expert in-charge of population health and social development, said.
“This means we will be producing a less productive workforce because their slow-thinking capacity will make them less competitive in East Africa and the world at large.”

Dr Ssekamate said this at a dialogue on maternal and child nutrition on the theme, Together We Can End Preventable Deaths, at the Makerere University School of Food, Nutrition and Technology yesterday. The dialogue was organised by Actionaid, Plan Uganda and World Vision.
The NPA Chairman, Mr Kisamba Mugerwa, said this phenomenon is being addressed by developing a five-year Uganda Nutrition Action Plan (UNAP), which is aimed at addressing the neglected nutrition issues in this country.
“Government is aware of the fundamental role nutrition plays in the development of the human capital. We are quickly reformulating their policies to include nutrition as one of the top priorities in development agenda,” he said.
The plan estimated to cost Shs80 billion for the next planned five years proposes a multi-sectoral approach in several key ministries targeting children and reproductive women.
“We have finalised a five-year nutrition action plan focusing on women, children and people leaving with HIV among others. It will create a strong human capital that will propel this country to prosperity in the next five years,” Dr. Ssekamate said.
Ms Rudo Kwaramba, the World Vision boss, noted that much as the NPA has spearheaded so much activity, they still have the mandate to push for political will now that they are done with the planning process.
Uganda may fail to reap full benefits if there is no proper coordination and yet so much money gets in through numerous non-governmental organisations,” Ms Rudo added.

However Prof. Patrick Rubaihayo, an expert in plant breeding, dismissed the plan as unpractical to suit various local governments. Prof. Rubaihayo added that much as numerous stakeholders were proposing to put to task the President’s Office to work on the nutrition issues, he asked what the Vice President’s Office role was.

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