Stunting, or being too short for one’s age, is a sign of chronic malnutrition in early childhood. Uganda (Pearl of Africa) also known as a food hub in the region; with a variety of foodstuff and animal products is still struggling with the challenge of 24.4% of stunted children under the age of 5 years.
This is as per the recently released Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2022 (UDHS 2022).
Importantly, not only does stunting affect a child’s brain development, IQ, school performance, and individual social and economic development, but at a national level, high rates of stunting impact the economic productivity and growth of any nation across the world.
Uganda’s stunting rate, though still high, has decreased over time from 33% in 2011, 28.9% in 2016 to the current 24.4%. Other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have made more progress on reducing stunting. For example, Rwanda’s stunting rate is now 19% and Ethiopia’s is 30%. This demonstrates that concerted efforts can make a difference.
However, key important interventions to reduce this silent endemic include but are not limited to; Improving access to diverse, nutritious foods for mothers and young children through nutrition programs and education and ensuring access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene which all impact early nutrition.
Expanding maternal health services to optimize early infant feeding practices; ensuring periodic nutrition screening and growth monitoring to identify and treat stunted children as early as possible and enabling timely access to healthcare to diagnose and address infections and other issues impacting growth.
With focused interventions, Uganda can make significant progress against stunting and set its youth up for healthier, more productive futures. But concerted, coordinated efforts are needed across health, agriculture and other sectors.
The high stunting rates based on the latest survey should prompt action by all relevant key players such as the MDAs, implementing partners and development partners.
Authored by Dan Muramuzi
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