Bundibugyo has set up a nutrition unit to address severe malnutrition among children in the district.
The district has the highest number of children below 5 years with stunted growth in the Rwenzori region. In a report released last year by the Rwenzori Think Tank on food security, there are more than 600 children suffering from malnutrition.
Most farmers have abandoned growing food crops such as bananas, potatoes, cassava, and switched to cocoa, a move that has contributed to food insecurity in the district.
The Nutrition Unit located at Bundibugyo hospital can accommodate 30 patients and is funded by the district health department. It will handle nutrition complications in children and nutritional education to the mothers on the correct foods to feed their children. The unit has an admission section for children suffering from acute malnutrition and a kitchen, where nutritious foods will be prepared for the sick children.
Dr. Francis Musingye, the in-charge of the nutrition unit, says that in the past there was no unit to treat malnourished children. He says that every day the hospital receives up to 10 children that are thin with sunken eyes and in dire need of nutritious food.
Musingye says that at least six children have also died at the hospital in the past three months due to malnutrition. He also adds that staff at the unit will conduct outreach programmes in rural areas to educate parents on proper feeding of children.
He says that there are plans to open more nutrition units in health facilities like Nyahuka, Busaru and Ntandi health centres where malnutrition cases are high.
Francis Mugisa, the Bundibugyo district agricultural officer, says that some people in the area lack adequate knowledge on appropriate nutrition for pregnant women and young children.
Two years ago, Bundibugyo district council passed a by-law compelling all farmers in the area to plant nutritious food crops like bananas, cassava, beans and maize and not to focus only on cocoa growing. The by-law has, however, never been implemented, causing shortage of food in homes.
According to the National Nutrition Action Plan 2011- 2016, districts are supposed to implement nutrition programmes aimed at improving maternal and child health in the country by reducing malnutrition in women of reproductive age as well as infants below two years.