Fiona Ruzha, H-Metro Reporter
AT LEAST 2000 Zimbabwean children aged six to 59 months were admitted and treated for severe acute malnutrition in January and February this year, a survey has revealed.
According to a survey by UNICEF with support from various partners, in the first two weeks of March, over 39 000 children under five were screened for acute malnutrition at health facilities at community level while at least 2000 were admitted and treated for acute malnutrition in January and February.
Zimbabwe Civil Society Organisations Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance (ZCSOSUNA) project officer Kudzai Chavunduka said Covid-19 and induced lockdowns contributed a lot to this high large number as women failed to get balanced diet which enables them to breast feed properly.
“We still have a lot to do in terms of fighting malnutrition because 2000 is a large number.
“More needs to be done in raising awareness especially the necessity of putting in place more programs to tackle the situation.
“And also not forgetting the issue of Covid-19 and induced lockdowns which contributed to this large number,” she said.
While there has been a general improvement in the lives of many Zimbabwean children in the last five years, the country still faces nutritional problems among children.
The country is currently receiving assistance from UNICEF which is providing lifesaving and critical nutrition assistance to 1.1 million women and children throughout the country.
Chavunduka urged pregnant women to go to clinics for pre-natal care of micro-nutrient supplementation being offered there.
“Pregnant women are encouraged of daily intake of folic acid (one of the B vitamins) to at least 400 micrograms.
“After birth there should be early initiation to breastfeeding the first hour after delivery and exclusive breastfeeding for the next six months.
“Six months there should be introduction of appropriate complimentary feeding of food components which include proteins, carbohydrates, fats and also micro-nutrients like vitamins and zinc.
“Growth monitoring at clinics is also of paramount importance for it helps fighting malnutrition in children but the ideal approach is to continue increasing knowledge on health eating and what constitute a balanced diet,” she said.