Teenage Mothers Struggling with Stunted Children

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In short
At Kisomoro Health Centre III, out of the 26 teenage mothers who visited the facility in the past three months, 16 had malnourished babies. Patricia Businge, a nurse says that sometimes the children are deprived of essential foods and the mothers also need nutrients for themselves.

Health facilities in Kabarole district are registering a high number of teenage mothers with malnourished children.

Unlike older women who are supported, the teenage mothers do not get the support to feed their children, which results to underweight babies.

At Kisomoro Health Centre III, out of the 26 teenage mothers who visited the facility in the past three months, 16 had malnourished babies.  Patricia Businge, a nurse says that sometimes the children are deprived of essential foods and the mothers also need nutrients for themselves.

She adds that delivering at a young age doubles the burden of the teenage mothers to feed themselves and their children on a proper diet.

At Rwimi Health Centre III, Lawrence Irumba, a nursing officer says 17 cases of malnourished children born from teenage mothers were registered over the past four months.

He says that some of the teenage mothers have been abandoned by their families and lack money to buy nutritious foods to feed the babies.

Irumba wants the government to implement health policies for the teenage mothers. He explains that due to lack of support, many teenagers do not attend antenatal care and are often stigmatized by the community and abuse by their parents.
 
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In a bid to address the problem, some health facilities, with support from the district health department, have started implementing the community therapeutic care program to curb severe malnutrition.

Daphine Bbira, a nutritionist at Rwimi Health Centre III says that under the program, trained nutrition specialists move from home to home sensitizing teenage mothers on the benefits of balanced diet.
 
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17-year-old Beatrice Kyomuhendo, a resident of Kakinga parish, Rwimi Sub County says that due to lack of money, feeding her two-year-old daughter is a challenge. Kyomuhendo, who was abandoned by her family and the father of the child, says that she only feeds her child on porridge made from Cassava flour.

According to the Ministry of Health Nutrition department, Malnutrition is a significant public health problem in Uganda and is a direct cause of 35 percent of under-five child mortality. Last year, a study known as The Cost of Hunger in Africa" revealed that Uganda loses 1.8 trillion Shillings or 899 million US Dollars in a single year due to poor nutrition.

Uganda also has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in sub-Saharan Africa, with half of its girls giving birth before 18 years.

 

About the author

Emmanuel Kajubu
Emmanuel Kajubu is proud to have been the first Ugandan journalist to write in depth pieces about the Tooro Kingdom institution. His knowledge of the inner workings of the Tooro Kingdom is what made him privy to the splits in the royal family. These splits almost challenged Tooro Omukama Oyo Nyimba Iguru's reign.

Culture, agriculture and the environment are just two areas of many of interest to Kajubu. As long as he has held a pen, Kajubu has also written about public policy, health and crime.

Kajubu is keen on impacting his society not just as a writer but also a trainer and mentor. Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts fall under his docket. Kajubu has been a URN staff member since 2008.