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Friday,October 30,2020 19:18 PM

Uganda's children stunted

By Vision Reporter

Added 14th December 2000 03:00 AM

The State of the World's Children 2001 report was released yesterday and continued to show a grim picture regarding children's health and well- being world over.

The State of the World's Children 2001 report was released yesterday and continued to show a grim picture regarding children's health and well- being world over.

* As violence strikes at the rights of women, infants and young children are twice exposed The State of the World's Children 2001 report was released yesterday and continued to show a grim picture regarding children's health and well- being world over. By Joan Mugenzi UGANDA ranks 32 from the bottom in the under-five mortality rate. Kenya ranks 39, seven positions better than Uganda and Tanzania ranks 30, two positions below. This is contained in a Unicef report that was launched yesterday at the International Conference Centre. The report, The State of the World's Children 2001, says of every 1,000 live births in Uganda, 131 children die before they are five. 13% of children born in Uganda have low birth weight, 34% are underweight with 26% of these categorised as moderate and severe and 7% severe. 38% of Uganda's children suffer from stunting. The report shows an improvement in Uganda's situation. In 1996, the under-five mortality rate was 141 per 1000 live births according to the Human Development Report 1998. The same report dated 2000 shows that the under-five mortality rate was 134. Sierra Leone, with the worst under-five mortality rank has 316 children die of every 1,000 live births. The report, which highlights the plight of children and stresses the need to invest in the early years of a child, looks at different aspects that impact on a child. It states that wasteful policies, avoidable wars and outright theft of natural resources have taken priority over the compelling need for health, education, food and water and sanitation for their citizens, including the youngest children. In the era of AIDS, the report says there are 34.3 million people in the world living with HIV/AIDS of which children account for 1.3 million. In some African countries, more than 10% of children under 15 are now orphans states the 116-page report. In Namibia alone, the number of children orphaned by AIDS increased fivefold between 1994 and 1999. The report points out that earlier estimates that more than 13 million children worldwide would lose their mothers or both parents to AIDS by the year 2001 were passed by the end of 1999. Ninety percent of these orphans live in sub-Saharan Africa. In 1999, the report shows that there were 5.4 million new HIV infections in the world. With such an infection rate, the report states that the worst is yet to come. Whether their parents die from AIDS or are too sick with HIV to provide the essentials of care and nurturance, children orphaned by the epidemic are likely to be malnourished, unschooled and aged beyond their years, with their rights to grow and develop fully, violated. On conflicts, the report states that on any given day, more than 20 armed conflicts are being fought around the world, most in poor countries and more likely violating a child's rights. In the past decade alone, 2 million children were slaughtered, 6 million were seriously injured or permanently disabled and 12 million were left homeless. In the last decade of the 20th century, over a million children were orphaned or separated from their families because of armed conflicts. The report observes that in some of the more recent hostilities, children in Sierra Leone, Sudan and northern Uganda witnessed the torture and murder of family members, and those in Chechnya withstood repeated bombings and explosions. Children who endure the inhumanity of war may suffer the scars of post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychological wound that interrupts the development process. For children under three years of age, sever trauma not only emotionally scars them, it can also permanently change their brain chemistry. With all these scenarios, Unicef is focussing on the need to invest in the early years of the child and women over the next decade. The main objective behind the decade is "protecting and fulfilling the rights of all children and women." The Unicef report looks at the women status as this is inextricably linked to children's status. As violence strikes at the rights of women in every phase of their lives, infants and young children are twice exposed. Women's powerlessness, caused by both inequality and abuse, threatens babies and young children. The report notes that each year, almost 8 million stillbirths and early neonatal deaths occur due to women's poor health and nutrition during pregnancy and lack of care for the new born. The report looks at the women's literacy levels as these are key to improving health, nutrition and education of families and children. The level of education of mothers in Uganda is estimated to be between 30 and 59%. African countries with 90% and above literacy levels among mothers are Libya, Congo Brazzaville, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Some of those with lower than 30% literacy levels include Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Burundi. The mothers in Uganda also have fewer than 50% of births with a skilled attendant present. Less than 50% of the children born in Uganda are registered. The lack of skilled attendants explains the high mortality rate in the country which stands at 510 per every 100,000 live births. Skilled prenatal and delivery care plays a major role in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity. In Kenya, which is better placed than Uganda in terms of under-five mortality, the education of mothers is between 60% and 89% although fewer than 50% births have a skilled attendant. The maternal mortality however, is higher than that of Uganda. It stands at 590 while that of Tanzania is 530. Mauritius has the lowest maternal mortality at 50. In Tanzania, the education levels are just like in Kenya, but more than 25% of girls under five years old are underweight. Malnourished girls often grow into malnourished mothers who are in turn more likely to give birth to low birth weight infants. Ends.

Uganda's children stunted

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