Activists from Civil Society groups are demanding that government seriously consider rolling out the National Nutrition Action Plan to curb the growing effects of malnutrition in Uganda which they say have a negative impact on the country’s development agenda.
At an event convened under Civil Society Alliance for Nutrition in Uganda (CISANU) the stakeholders noted the slow progress of government in implementing the Uganda Nutrition Action Plan (UNAP II) with the country registering increasing levels of malnutrition which has contributed to infant, child and maternal morbidity, decreased learning, lower productivity and higher mortality.
According to the CISANU convener Mr. Richard Baguma, the meeting was part of the activities the alliance is undertaking to leverage opportunity to popularize the UNAP II as well as mobilize and enlist CSOs to commit to advocate for the implementation of governments commitments focusing on Women and Children on areas of exclusive breastfeeding, iron &vitamin A intake.
The second Uganda Nutrition Action Plan (2020/1 – 2024/25) outlines strategies to address the nutrition needs of all population groups in Uganda with particular focus on Children under five years, school-age children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating women and other vulnerable groups.
Nutrition is essential, especially the first 1000 days of human development from conception to two years. Poor nutrition causes irreversible cognitive and physical damage with consequences for individuals, households, communities and the nation. Almost one-third of children under 5 and 1 of 3 women suffer from malnutrition in Uganda.
Baguma says the CSOs are concerned about government’s reluctance to implement the national nutrition action plan which puts the welfare of Ugandans at a high risk.
“The Nutrition Action Plan is an excellent strategy for Uganda’s development through improving our nutrition but it has been kept on the desk and still awaits the signature of the Prime Minister. We want to implement it but the Right Hon Prime minister is rolling us back a bit!” Mr. Baguma said.
“We appeal to the Prime minister to signs the Nutrition Action Plan foreword, launches it publicly, and we can work with government to roll it out to improve the welfare of Ugandans” he stated.
Moses Mulengani the Assistant Commissioner in the Office of the Prime Minister said government has adopted a multi-sectoral approach to address the nutrition concerns of the population but the challenge of funding the nutrition action plans limits progress in some areas.
The stakeholders identified gaps in the National nutrition policy plan especially on breastfeeding and called for more sensitization of masses on the importance of breastfeeding the children. They also identified the need to scale up funding for advocacy through resource mobilization to support implementation of the national nutrition action pan.
Sarah Ngalombi a senior nutritionist from the Ministry of Health said nutrition of children should be a concern of everyone including parents, guardians and government. She said the MOH is currently implementing a strategic plan to curb malnutrition in Uganda including nutrition education across all population but also promoting breastfeeding in lactating mothers.
Ms. Ngalombi says the MOH also has micro-nutrient supplementation programmes especially the Vitamin A supplementation for children starting at 6 months up to 59 months where children must be taken to receive Vitamin A supplementation usually administered in April and October.