Over 1 500 Die of Malnutrition-Related Causes

More than 1 500 children died of malnutrition in Namibia since 2008, the head of the epidemiology department in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Clementine Muroua, revealed yesterday.

Muroua told a media briefing that the cases were not caused by malnutrition alone, but other factors also came into play.

“It could be that some of these malnutrition patients were also battling other illnesses, which contributed to their deaths at the end of the day,” said Muroua, adding that one needs to take into account all these factors.

Muroua, however, said the ministry had achieved a 100% eradication of polio, tetanus, pneumonia, whooping cough and diphtheria (a bacterial disease) through childhood vaccine programmes.

Director of Primary Health Care Maggy Nghatanga said the diseases’ outbreaks are controlled and managed in time and therefore, no cases were reported over the last five years.

“There are challenges which the ministry experiences when it comes to dealing with malnutrition and food security, especially since malnutrition is triggered by the lack of food in the country,” said Nghatanga.

Muroua said in 2008, a total of 269 children under the age of five and under the age of one died of malnutrition, while in 2009 there were 370 deaths, and 484 in 2010, with 387 recorded in 2011. The figures, however, dropped to 70 in 2012 and then to three in 2013.

The Namibian reported this year that about five children died of malnutrition at Grootfontein State Hospital.

Health permanent secretary Andrew Ndishishi yesterday said, “the ministry’s mission is to combat the disease not malnutrition”.

“We attend to them. We give them some food when they approach us at hospitals. But because malnutrition is not a disease, we assist where we can,” he said.

The Namibia Red Cross Society predicted last year that about 109 000 rural children under the ages of five were at risk of malnutrition because of food shortage and poor sanitation.

Source : The Namibian