Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Media Training about Nutrition in Uganda

Press statement from the Health Journalists Network in Uganda (HEJNU) on the Reporters Nutrition training held on the 12th of August 2015 and sponsored by the USAID’s Production for Improved Nutrition Project (PIN) and implemented by Reco Industries Limited.

To educate the media on the importance of covering under-nutrition, the USAID’s Production for Improved Nutrition Project (PIN) which is implemented by Reco Industries Limited sponsored an Editors’ breakfast on 4th August and a reporters training on the 12th of August 2015.

The Health Journalists Network in Uganda (HEJNU) facilitated both events. Find the report for this event on the HEJNU website

The keynote address was made by Dr Elizabeth Madraa, the Fortification/Policy Adviser at Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) Uganda. Dr Madraa urged the media to get the facts and educate the nation about nutrition. She said malnutrition affects children under the age of 5 where growth is fast, beyond which age, some of the nutrition interventions cannot work.

She said fortified foods are crucial in addressing the problem of malnutrition, which remains a big burden in Uganda and urged the Government to assist middle and small scale farmers to fortify their products. Dr Madraa explained that while fortification is one of the most cost effective and sustainable approaches to addressing micronutrient malnutrition, it should be implemented alongside other strategies including bio-fortification and supplementation.

“Consumption of fortified foods is meant to improve nutritional status and to decrease the degree of malnutrition and prevent micronutrient deficiencies,” said Dr Madraa.

Brian Rwabwogo, the Chief of Party, USAID/Uganda PIN project said the media is a key player in educating people about nutrition. He said the project is supporting school gardens and child rights groups to empower the next generation of Ugandans.

Alex Kisembo, Marketing and Sales Director at Reco Industries, said some of the foods they fortify include corn soya blend and fortified maize, which are rich in essential minerals and vitamins such as iron, Vitamin B1, Folic acid, Zinc and Biotin.

“Nutrition is an essential part of leading a healthy life. We should also strive to ensure that all individuals and families across the country have access to the appropriate nutritional choices,” said Mr Kisembo.

RECO Industries Ltd, an agro-processing company has operations in Kampala and Kasese, but works with farmer groups across the country.

Brenda Shenute Namugumya, Senior Technical Officer-Nutrition from Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA II) project said households have made strides in overcoming under nutrition by having kitchen gardens.

She urged people to balance between selling food to generate income and to feed properly to remain healthy. Uganda, although considered a food basket in the East African region has the highest number of stunted children. She said 54% (one in two) Uganda’s adult population was stunted in childhood.

Below are statistics and facts on under-nutrition and maternal nutrition in Uganda:

  • Malnutrition occurs even within the wealthy households 
  • 54% (one in two) Uganda’s adult population was stunted in childhood 
  • 12% of women in reproductive age are too thin (BMI <18.5 kg/m2) 
  • 23 % women of reproductive age have anaemia (<12.0g/dl) 
  • Three in ten pregnant women have anaemia 
  • 438 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births 
  • Western and Southwestern have highest number of stunted children; 9-24 months most affected by stunting 
  • Uganda has the highest number of stunted children in the East African region 
  • Malnutrition and stunting is transferred from generation to generation if no intervention is done 
  • At least 98% Ugandan households use iodised salt 
  • The commonest micronutrient deficiencies in Uganda are ; Iron, Vitamin A and Zinc deficiency as well as Iodine deficiency disorders 
  • Ready to Use Therapeutics foods (RUTFs) are administered for FREE at all health facilities. Administering of RUTFs is 6 weeks – 3 months after which, complimentary food should be administered 
  • Therapeutic foods can only be prescribed in a health facility so they are not available on the open market; RUTFs are effectively a drug and should not be used by healthy people 
  • The ‘F’ Logo on packaging shows that the food is fortified. It is for purposes of educating the population about the product. 
  • All wheat producers in Uganda fortify mandatorily while for Maize and oil only producers of certain quantities have to fortify. 
  • The level of Vitamin A deficiency is 36% in Uganda but all expecting mothers attending antenatal clinics and get iron supplements. 
  • RECO Industries Ltd has 30 years of experience in making RUTFs and they have a competitive edge over the other companies. 

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