Health

40% OF CHILDREN STUNTED IN NORTHERN UGANDA

By UG Reports

NORTHERN: A survey conducted by Lira University, Muni University and Palm Corps has revealed that 40% of children born in Northern Uganda after the Lord Resistance Army {LRA} are experiencing stunted growth.

Dr. Benard Omech, the public health coordinator for Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) at Lira University said they are working together with Muni University and Palm Corps to develop food recipes to support malnourished children and those suffering from nodding syndrome.

The objective of the project is to increase production of diversified foods following the LRA war that left the population especially children and pregnant mothers vulnerable without adequate food for consumption.

“As a result of poverty in Northern Uganda, most of the vulnerable groups like children are stunted and this has affected them in terms of food productivity”, he said.

He explains that a baseline study was conducted showing that there is still a lot of malnutrition in Northern Uganda with 34 percent of stuntendeness among children below five years of age.

This informed Dr. Omach and the team to come up with the interventions that will address poverty by increasing food production through diversified food and also promote the food to have access to the markets so that the farmers are economically empowered.

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“Most of our farmers produce food but how to utilize the available food to improve the nutrition of their vulnerable members in the families is yet a challenge, This is why the program is dubbed DINU-CHASE Poverty and Hunger”, he added.

Dr. Omech says Northern Uganda experienced a reduction in food production following the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency which cannot meet the demand of the many children born after the war, resulting into stunted growth.

He explains that they are encouraging farmers, schools and parents of children suffering from nodding syndrome to grow nutritive crops like soya, cabbage, orange fleshed potatoes which are rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and energy and micro nutrients for proper growth.

According to him, a protocol has been drawn waiting for approval by the ethical review committee before the recipes can be distributed for use by victims of nodding disease, moderate and acute malnutrition.

The team also visited victims of nodding syndrome and assessed the types of food they are fed on to inform them on the type of recipes to develop.

Sophia Akidi, a resident of Lela-dam in Otara parish, Aromo Sub County who is taking care of a 23 year old victim of nodding syndrome welcomed the initiative saying it will go a long way to improve the health of people suffering from the disease.

Calvin Opio, another parent of a child suffering from the same asked the government to support them with recommended seeds to grow and support the health of their children.

However, Dr. Omech explained that other consortium like Palm Corps and National Agricultural and Research Organization (NARO) will be engaging farmer groups and communities to embrace this initiative.

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