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18 babies die from rampant malnutrition

Image: 123RF/vitalinka

Eighteen babies died from malnutrition in five months in Ingquza Hill in the OR Tambo District, Eastern Cape, health officials in the municipality reported to social development MEC Dr Pumza Dyantyi yesterday.

The babies died between April and September, the MEC was told during her visit to Kwa-Gcuda village in the remote parts of Lusikisiki.

The municipality has recorded the highest child mortality rate and acute malnutrition among young children in the past within the OR Tambo district.

The MEC, who was accompanied by other department officials, donated food parcels to about 21 poor families in the village as a short-term intervention.

The chilling report tabled by Ingquza Hill health sub-district manager Nomahlubi Mayekiso shocked some of the people who attended the event.

The report says between April and June, about 58 malnourished babies were admitted to the St Elizabeth Regional Hospital in Lusikisiki and the Holy Cross Hospital in Flagstaff.

"Seven of them died," she said, adding that in the 2018-19 financial year starting in July to September, 11 of the 28 underfed babies admitted to hospital died.

"We also have a big challenge of pregnant women who do not go for pregnancy check ups until their time to give birth."

But Dyantyi told scores of Kwa-Gcuda villagers that malnutrition was a direct result of mothers feeding their children baby formula milk instead of breast-feeding.

"Of which they don't know the right way to administer those formulas," she said.

And as part of the integrated approach to help the villagers, her department last year funded 25 households to start vegetable gardens.

The beneficiaries were also taught how to grow organic crops by the Mvula Trust, an organisation partnering with the social development department in Kwa-Gcuda.

Dyantyi said the idea was to ensure that even if her department ran out of funding, other stakeholders would be able to come in and continue with the support.

"We also want to stop duplication of services," she said.

Officials from the department of rural development and agrarian reform said they were mentoring 21 people in the village on how to run vegetable gardens.

Dyantyi said a new mobile-device-
driven system would be launched this week to help with data capturing. The national integrated social information system is widely used in Latin America to fight poverty through planning, co-ordination and delivery of anti-poverty services.

The MEC said manual profiling of poor families had proved problematic as paperwork easily got lost or damaged.

"With this, the information about each family is relayed not only to our provincial office but the national office as well."

Ingquza Hill mayor Pat Mdingi lauded Dyantyi's department, but said there was another village about 10km away which was worse off, with no water, is arid and receives low rainfall.

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