Kotido health centres admit 2,000 malnourished children in eight months

"Health is made at home so we are emphasizing prevention"

By Catherine Ntabadde Makumbi
nutrition, malnutrition
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Abdul
10 October 2019

With the increased sensitization and community outreaches in Karamoja, more malnourished children aged 6-59 months are now admitted in the Out-Patient Therapeutic Care (OTC) Programme at health centres.

In Kotido District, from January – August 2019, the health centres admitted 2,000 new cases of malnourished children. The highest number of cases at 344 was registered in August 2019. Out of the 22 health centres in the district, only 18 provide OTC services.

“Parents and caregivers are now bringing their children to the health centres to treat malnutrition. Whereas this is good because it shows us that the community is receiving the messages and acting on it by bringing their children to the health centres, we also want them to be healthy and come for the other aspects and not necessarily nutrition challenges. Health is made at home and we are also emphasizing the issue of prevention,"

says Jennifer Aanyu, the Kotido District Nutrition Focal Person

As more severely malnourished children are admitted in the health centre, the districts in Karamoja are also continuously aiming to improve the quality of services offered to the children, their mothers and the general community.

Critical to service delivery is ensuring that the health workers have their capacities built regularly. Aanyu says that through the support of UNICEF and other partners, the district has conducted capacity building of the health workers including nutrition assessments, counseling and support.

nutrition, malnutrition
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Abdul

“From these trainings like the counselling, health workers acquire skills to counsel all mothers. There is what we call group counselling which the health workers provide."

she added

"The mothers are also encouraged to have one-one sessions with the health workers in case there are issues that can not be handled in the group,”

UNICEF with funding from the European Union and UKaid is implementing two nutrition programmes in Karamoja whose ultimate goal is to improve the delivery and coverage of nutrition services for women and children.   

The EU funded programme implemented by UNICEF in 15 districts in Acholi, Lango, Karamoja and West Nile sub regions, is part of the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU). Countrywide, DINU is implemented in 33 districts under the overall supervision of the Office of the Prime Minister.

UKaid’s support to UNICEF is benefiting all the Karamoja districts and is targeted towards the building of a strong and functional health system to improve the delivery of quality nutrition interventions.

To improve the district’s cure rate of the malnourished children admitted in OTC, Kotido District through its various partners is engaging parents and caregivers to follow the treatment as advised by the health workers and to take actions to improve hygiene and sanitation at home, develop kitchen gardens to plant a variety of vegetables and greens.

nutrition, malnutrition
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Abdul

“Many children recover from malnutrition. If a mother is committed and adheres to the treatment, the admitted child can show improvement in two weeks and can be healed in a month. We are also strengthening the prevention aspects which must be done at home,”

Aanyu explained.

Through continuous health education, sensitization, community dialogues and Go back to school campaigns, Kotido District authorities are optimistic that the communities’ mindset will change, and malnutrition will be no more in Karamoja.