Malnutrition is a major problem in developing countries among school-going children.
According to the Growth and Assessment Surveillance Unit of the World Health Organization (WHO), children aged 5 to 14 years in developing countries experience stunting growth at 28% and 45% for East Africa.
What’s more, adolescents aged 10 to 19 years (unlike other age groups) have the highest requirement for protein, energy, and micronutrients.
Based on WHO data, adolescents with micronutrient deficiencies such as iron-deficiency anemia impairs productivity and health in adulthood.
Anemia, particularly, reduces concentration and general learning ability and thus affects the following:
- Motor performance
- Cognitive function
- Educational achievement
Highly-nutritious meals served to children in schools can lower cases of under-nutrition and anemia, atop supporting cognitive function.
According to various studies, meals served to children in schools should accompany other initiatives of public health such as:
- Hygiene (WASH)
- Interventions for controlling malaria
Approaches for improving health and nutrition in school-going children include:
- Offering micronutrient supplements such as folate and iron tablets
- Providing a diversified diet
- Adding particular foods rich in nutrients such as milk and related products, eggs, ground silver fish, and groundnuts.
When choosing high-nutrient meal plans, consider:
- Acceptability to school-going children and the stakeholders.
Health and Nutrition Drive in Uganda
Childhood growth rates in Uganda over the last 10 years was under-weight and stunting, with 33% of children below five years experiencing stunted growth in 2011.
A 2009 study linked childhood stunted growth with class repetitions in school. Children with stunting growth were forecasted to achieve almost 1.2 years of studying than those who aren’t stunted.
Studies show that micronutrient deficiencies are a serious issue in Uganda among young adults and children.
Fortified foods in schools are part of feeding program as stated in the country’s legislative and Uganda. Poor feeding of school-going children impairs education quality at all levels.
Schools, communities and parents are responsible for feeding children in schools.
Interventions that Drive Health and Nutrition in Uganda
- Procuring and consuming different nutritious foods such as fortified foods to boost food diversity.
- Increasing access to school feeding programs led by parents
- Complementary interventions deployment such as prevention of illnesses and deworming via WASH.
- Maize meal fortification with iron or folic acid (only 6.5% of households consume this type of flour); cost-effective way to reduce iron deficiency and boost micronutrient consumption.
- Improving access to fortified foods in schools.
3 Major Interventions Driving Health and Nutrition in Uganda
- Use of fortified maize flour
Serving meals of high nutritional quality to school-going children supports cognitive function and reduces the severity of anemia and stunting growth.
Increased consumption of various nutritious foods such as fortified foods, according to the Ministry of Education and Sports in Uganda, can boost health and nutrition.
Fortified maize flour is used to increase intake of micronutrients and reducing widespread of iron deficiency.
- Integration of nutrition assessment, counselling and support (NACS) into routine health service delivery
NACS aims at determining the availability of essential nutrition services elements such as:
- Counseling skills
- Assessment tools
- Anthropometric tools
It also determines the availability of supplies, including:
- Micronutrient supplements
- Supplementary and therapeutic foods for children in supported communities and health facilities.
The study refocuses essential and relevant interventions for improving health facilities’ capacity to deploy NACS to attain better health outcomes.
- Leveraging agriculture for nutrition in Uganda
The study provides evidence that agricultural policy and programmes can create and control an enabling environment to boost health and nutrition. It fosters economic development and fights poverty to improve national growth.
Agriculture can improve health and nutrition.