At least 2.4 million children under five years of age are chronically malnourished and more than one million are underweight, according to a new report.
The report follows a survey conducted by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) in collaboration with the Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU)’s Department of Research, Publication and Innovation.
“Despite being the country’s food basket, the south-west region has the highest rates of stunting, illustrating that the causes are not limited to low income or food insecurity,” the report states.
The period under review was between January to December last year.
Ms Sheila Depio, a researcher with EPRC, said during the release of the report recently that the survey was aimed at creating awareness among all stakeholders on the current state of Ugandan children, provide a summary of the critical pillars that could contribute to effective child policies and also identify areas/gaps for which data and critical evidence based research findings are required to inform policy.
She said the findings of the study would be used to ensure that national policies for children are empirical and in compliance with the UN convention on children’s rights.
The survey also highlighted that despite the reduction in maternal mortality from 527 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2005 to 438 death per 100,000 live births in 2011, participation in antenatal care remains low with only 48 per cent of women completing the minimum recommended four visits.
Ms Depio further explained that preventable diseases are still common causes of under-five mortality, adding that while immunisation rates have improved, only 52 per cent of children less than two-years-old are fully vaccinated.
“Although basic healthcare are officially free, informal charges remains, with 61 per cent of families having to meet their children’s healthcare costs. And whereas 30 per cent of the rural population have no access to latrine,” the report reads.
According to the report, the number of adolescents infected with HIV/Aids have more than doubled in the last 15 years, with a third of new infections now occurring among adolescent girls.
On Education, the report indicates that 33 per cent of children who start primary school drop out before completing Primary Seven and the quality of primary education remains poor whereas one in five primary teachers are competent in English and Maths.
The report shows that only 40 per cent of students are literate by the end of primary school.
The report states: “Forty per cent of children have experienced physical violence and 58 per cent of 15 to 19 year-old-girls have experience physical violence or sexual violence. Eleven per cent of children are orphans while 2.4 million are involved in exploitative child labour.”