Dec 4, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Thousands of children have died from malnutrition in the past five years

In the last three years, 2,818 children under the age of five have died of malnutrition in hospitals in South Africa.

This was communicated to the National Assembly by the Ministry of Health following a question from Bridget Masango of the prosecution.

Additional figures provided by the department going back five years underscored the seriousness of the situation: “There were 3,886 under-five related deaths with severe acute malnutrition in the past five years as reported in the District Health Information System,” said spokesman Foster Mohale.

“Malnourished children are more likely to die from infections, and infections exacerbate the severity of malnutrition. Most deaths from acute malnutrition are related to infections such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.”

The number of deaths includes children who died from severe acute malnutrition, which is a fast-moving disease , in which wasting, or dramatic weight loss, leads to death, and moderate acute malnutrition, in which the sufferer lives long periods of malnutrition and death could result from complications such as pneumonia.

According to the figures, the Northwest is the only province to record a significant drop in child deaths from severe malnutrition, from 154 in 2019 to 56 and 62 over the next two years respectively.

The Sunday Times reported on 8th May 199 children under five died of malnutrition in hospitals in January and February this year.

According to the report, families affected by the lockdown are struggling d poverty hit hard by Covid-19, getting food on the table KwaZulu-Natal is bearing the brunt.

Experts said the situation was likely to get worse as more and more people with no sign of relief or sink into poverty during economic recovery.With interest rates rising again and the war in Ukraine – a major grain exporter – likely to continue for some time, experts predict higher prices and more hardship.

According to the parliamentary response, the following numbers were reported:

  • 2019 /2020: moderate acute malnutrition (Mam) – 166; Severe Acute Malnutrition (Sam) – 868; Total – 1,034;
  • 2020/2021: Mam – 207; Sam — 568; Total — 775; and
  • 2021/2022: Mam — 238; Sam — 771; Total – 1009

The worst-hit provinces were KwaZulu-Natal, followed by the Eastern Cape and Gauteng.

In a response to TimesLIVE, the Health Department said there were 907 were severe cases of malnutrition among children under five in 2017 and 787 in 2018.

Mervyn Abrahams, program coordinator at the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group, said annual increases in welfare payments are not closing the inflation gap rising food costs.

Nokuthula Dladla, project manager at Siyaphambili Qondile, a non-profit organization, said there is no doubt that children are going hungry.

“The child benefit subsidy is not enough to feed them feed,” she said.

Teddy Bear Clinic director Dr. Shaheda Omar said the deaths recorded were those observed in hospitals and did not reflect the actual number of children dying in rural areas.

Support independent journalism by subscribing to The Sunday Times. Only 20 R for the first month.