MBARARA – At least 30 cases of malnourished children are being reported at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital every month as mothers associate it to witchcraft, a senior nutritionist has revealed.
Dr. Dalton Babukika, a senior nutritionist at the Pediatric ward of Mbarara’s regional hospital has on Tuesday, August 20, confirmed that most of these cases come from Buhweju and Isingiro and these have mainly been attributed to high levels of poverty among families.
Isingiro is predominantly known for producing Matooke. Dr Babukika notes that Matooke is mainly cultivated for business purposes but due to limited land, families don’t grow enough beans and groundnuts to feed their babies.
“In Buhweju, parents have abandoned their families for gold mining and tea growing and due to high illiteracy levels; they have less knowledge about how to prepare an enriched meal for children, even when mothers are still pregnant they are fed poorly,” he noted.
He adds that most mothers in the villages associate malnutrition with witchcraft and tend not to come to hospitals to seek medical care.
Babukika revealed this on Tuesday while receiving food items for malnourished children from Nile Breweries Limited worth UGX 10million.
He stated that the hospital on average receives 30 to 35 children every month which causes overcrowding due to the limited space in the pediatric ward.
He noted that in most cases young babies end up sharing beds.
“Among the cases we record at the ward, malnutrition is now leading. Sometimes we are overwhelmed by numbers and we improvise by allowing like three babies to share one bed since they (babies) are always small we are hopeful that the hospital administrator has future plans of expanding the ward,” said Dr. Babukika.
Adding that even feeding their mothers is still a challenge to the hospital.
“We provide food for the mothers and children because if we don’t, some mothers tend to abandon their kids in the ward due to poverty and cannot provide them with food.”
Dr. Babukika further said that they manage to get enriched food for malnourished children through donations and well-wishers and some is hospital-funded.
He advised mothers to spare time for their children and be mindful of the food they eat.
“Most mothers don’t know how to cook good food in villages, some prepare Katogo with only 2 grains of bean and you a find a child has only eaten Matooke without beans, most foods they prepare lack right nutrients for bodybuilding but those who come to the hospital we teach them how to prepare enriched food” Babukika advised.
George Mbogo the plantation manager at Nile Breweries said upon visiting the hospital, they have realized that a lot is lacking as far as taking care of malnourished children at the ward is concerned.
“Today we donated items like cooking oil, soya, beans, blankets, mosquito nets, sugar and after we shall do this quite often through our corporate social responsibility because these kids need to be helped out. We did this because the public should not only know that we brew and sell beer but also extend our hand to the communities,” said Mr Mbogo.
He called upon other agencies and individuals in their capacity to copy the same and reach out to these vulnerable children.