Wednesday June 19 2013

Most stunted children are in Kisoro, says report

By Stephen Otage


Kisoro District has the highest number of stunted children in Uganda, findings of a new study shows.

Other districts with high numbers of stunted children are Kamwenge, Agago, Lira, Kole and Dokolo. The study, which was conducted by Harvard School of Public Health and Makerere University under the nutrition innovation laboratory for Stunted growth is the reduced growth rate in human development and an early childhood manifestation of malnutrition caused by a malnourished mother.

Its long term effects on children include loss of cognition, low self-esteem lack of social achievement because the brain does not work well and marginalisation by society because most times stunted people remain short in stature.

It is mainly caused by deficiency of essential food nutrients in the body during growth. Kisoro again leads the six districts with 5 per cent of the children under five years said to be severely underweight. This is closely followed by Agago, Kole, Kamwenge, Lira and Dokolo.

Speaking at the release of the findings yesterday, Prof Jeffrey Griffiths, the director Nutrition Collaborative research support programme for Africa at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutritional Science and policy, said the findings should not be surprising because most times having food in abundance does not necessarily translate into balanced dieting in homes.

“A balanced diet means one single meal comprising of food values like vitamin A, Zinc, iron and protein which we can get from fish, eggs, meat, vegetables and fruits which are important in helping growth. Imagine you have three meals daily but of maize; what do you expect?” he asked.

He said the study targeted six districts where the Community Connect Project funded by the United States government has operations in Uganda because they have consistently featured in the Uganda demographic health indicator surveys with the lowest health indicators.

They include Agago, Kole Dokolo, Lira, Kamwenge and Kisoro districts but those in Northern Uganda are not affected because the households have livestock.
Asked to explain the dismal performance of the two western Uganda districts, Prof Bernard Bashaasha, Uganda’s principal investigator, said it was an opportunity for the rest of Uganda to demystify the notion that since western Uganda has enjoyed relative peace, all is well there.

“People think that since western Uganda was not affected by war, there is no suffering there. They forget that Northern Uganda has been getting a lot of support that’s why they may not be having the problems like in Western Uganda,” he observed.