There are an estimated 250,000 children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition in Uganda.
UNICEF and Ministry of Health initiated an innovative and simplified approach for early detection of children with malnutrition through ‘Family-Led MUAC’ where, instead of health workers, mothers and other caregivers are capacitated to diagnose malnutrition in their children using MUAC tapes.
These tapes are color-coded to enable mothers interpret the results; detect signs of malnutrition and sick treatment at health facilities early enough.
Dr. Olaro Charles, an expert mentioned the need for mindset change.
“Malnutrition is a national problem; it’s not just a Karamoja problem. We need to address it countrywide. : Good nutrition is a preventative measure for diseases. It is like a vaccine for good health,” he said.
Mothers have been encouraged to initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and feed the child exclusively on breast milk for the first six months.
Dr. Aggrey Batesaki said there is need of raising awareness on the simplified evidence-based and practical solutions on nutrition for mothers and children.
“We want to advocate for increased funding to nutrition endeavors to communities in Uganda, ”he said.
Early detection and referral of children with malnutrition is important for treatment.
Whereas the village health teams are supposed to reach out to children to detect and refer those malnourished to health facilities, they are usually overwhelmed with other competing priorities.
Many children thus lie unidentified in the community due to limited screening and some do even die before reaching health facilities.