• Nov 07, 2021 . 1 min Read
  • Nutritional supplements helping under-malnourished babies in West Nile

Robert Oyaka, the Regional Nutrionist in West Nile. Photo by Maureen Nakatudde
Maureen Nakatudde
Journalist @New Vision

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3% of Uganda's population is malnourished. However, Robert Oyaka, the Regional Nutritionist reports that West Nile has more than 3% of these.

“Nutrition is a major problem within west Nile and pertaining areas, we have under malnutrition and over mal-nutrition, but we are dealing with under mal-nutrition,” he reveals.

Oyaka says most of the children who are under five are worse off. To make sure they recuperate and regain their health, Oyaka says they have to monitor them on a weekly basis when they come to Arua hospital.

Since they have not been feeding well, these children also have other medical problems like eye problems and hydration.

Once they are admitted in the Hospital, Oyaka says the children are fed on feeds that are provided by UNICEF and National Medical Store. These children are also given micronutrient supplementation like Vitamin A and Albendazon.

It is important to note the hospital deals with two components of mal-nutrition. Those children who come from the community: Outpatient Care (OTC) and those that are admitted: in-patient care (ICT).

Oyaka says if the nutritional supplement never existed, the region would face a worse situation. “All these young ones have benefited from the NMS supply,” he says

Dr. Oyaka reports that the national mortality rate of infants in Uganda is 5% but there's is 7% in the region. “We are trying to bring our mortality rate down by strengthening the hygiene, the feeding interval, we are strengthening the supervision of the staff.”

Previously, they would feed the babies after three hours, but now since they want them to be healthier and grow, they do it after every two hours.

“We are giving them milk and that is all they take,” he says. “You introduce them to other foods, the patients might even die. “

Oyaka says introducing them to other foods is also impossible since it is very expensive. If a family tried it, it would cost them sh150, 000 per-month, which they cannot afford.

He also suggested that in order to strengthen the health system, it should start from health Centres I, II, III, IV, and by the time they come to refer the patient to the hospital, it should be the one who needs most help.

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