Acute malnutrition on rise in NCD

Cases of acute malnutrition amongst children below the age of 5 in the nation’s capital are fast increasing.

Nutritionist Sr Dani Aiva Stocks, from NCD Health Services, says this is a direct impact of the rise in prices of goods and services, greatly affecting mothers and children in marginalised communities.

Small urban clinics like the Gordon Health Centre attend to 24 malnutrition cases per month while major hospitals such as Gerehu and Kaugere record more.

Noting from their records, Sr Dani said malnutrition is common amongst children from 6 months to 5 years of age…and what’s worrying  about these statistics is that for children less than 5 years old, it is life threatening.

Sr Dani said the rise in the prices of goods and services is even causing the price of fresh garden produce to increase, making mothers dig deeper into their pockets to provide nutritious meals for their children.

She added, for a single mother from a marginalised community who earns less than K2 a day, providing a simple nutritious meal is a luxury she cannot afford.

“We are expecting an increase in malnutrition cases because the prices have gone up. Markets are expensive too, especially for food and vegetable that contain vital nutrients,” said Sr Dani.

She further revealed that wrong nutrition practices are another issue.

“A child should be on exclusive breast-feeding from zero-6 months and then begin complementary feeding from 6-59 months but in most cases, mothers are introducing their infants to food earlier than that.”

An infant’s digestive system is underdeveloped and their tiny bodies are forced to consume the foreign food hence, many contact severe diarrhoeal diseases which lead to malnutrition, she explained.

Family planning and a mother’s lack of nutrition knowledge also contribute to the rise in malnutrition cases in NCD.

(Picture: Oxfam International)

Carolyn Ure