Having recorded 45 deaths of children under the age of five from malnutrition-related complications during the first half of this year, the Omaheke region continues to battle the effects of malnutrition after one death and 11 new cases were reported between July and August.
The new statistics were revealed by the regional leadership during Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah’s recent visit to the region, where she visited various soup kitchens and assessed the region’s various community feeding programmes.
In her deliberations with the region’s governor, Pijoo Nganate, and his regional team, Nandi-Ndaitwah said she was highly disturbed by the growing cases of malnutrition amongst school learners and small babies.
She said something urgently needs to be done to arrest the problem, and that a multi-sectorial approach will be needed to ensure the crisis is fully addressed.
“One can see that there is a problem here and the cases are rising again. After listening to the regional leadership, it is clear that the decrease in the number of soup kitchens has also contributed to the problem, and that is one area we must look at. We need to bring back more soup kitchens for the needy – and that will need a multi-sectorial approach, as they must be run in a sustainable manner,” she said.
“All of us must work together to address the issue, as it is not good at all, but I’m happy you were able to share this information with me and it also comforts me to know and see that you are trying your best to put measures in place.”
During the first half of this year, the region recorded about 132 cases of malnutrition between January and June – and during the same reporting period, a total of 45 children under the age of five died as a result of malnutrition.
Malnutrition is caused by deficiencies or excesses in nutrient intake, imbalance of essential nutrients or impaired nutrient utilisation. The double burden of malnutrition consists of undernutrition, overweight and obesity, as well as diet-related non-communicable diseases.
Weight loss due to the depletion of fat and muscle mass, including organ mass, is often the most obvious sign of malnutrition.
Muscle function declines before changes in muscle mass occur, suggesting that altered nutrient intake has an important impact that is independent of the effects on muscle mass.