THERE is a heavy link between basic education and the nutritional status of babies as a recent survey found that 8% of babies born from mothers with no or primary education are underweight.
A Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey report for 2010 says about 6% of children under the age of five are underweight.
This means the children are thin for their ages.
“Children most affected are those age 6-11 months who constitute 9%, those born from mothers with no primary education and those from poorest households who formulate 8% each group,” says the report.
The survey also found that 44% of children less than six months are exclusively breastfed and about 55% of children are breastfed within the first hour of birth. The mean duration of exclusive breastfeeding is three months with further analysis indicating that other foods are introduced too early before the age of six months.
World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on infant and young child feeding (IYCF) recommend that infants be breastfed within one hour of birth, breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life and continue to breastfeed for two years or more, while introducing nutritionally adequate, safe and age appropriate, complementary feeding starting at six months.
The report states that at six months of age onwards, children should be introduced to two or more meals of solid, semi-solid or soft foods. Only 67% children between six to eight months are introduced to other foods and 53% are fed adequately.
Bottle-feeding is prevalent with 30% of children between zero to two months bottle-fed.
Shiselweni has highest number of stunted children
ABOUT 31% of children under the age of five in the country are stunted with the Shiselweni region taking the lead at 38%.
Stunting means the children are short for their ages. According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey report for 2010, stunting is more prevalent in the rural areas than in urban.
Stunted children in the rural areas constitute 33% while the urban has only 23%. Children whose mothers have no education or primary education and those from the poorest households have the highest rates of stunting with 40%, 38% and 42% respectively.
The survey also indicates that in 2010, 9% of infants had low birth weight. Low birth weight is when a newborn baby weighs less than 2.5 kg.
This carries a range of critical health risks for children such as death during their early months and years while those who survive have impaired immune function and increased risk of disease among other risks.
The low birth weight prevalence is higher for children born from mothers with no education constituting 12% compared with those from mothers with higher education at 5%.
SEJUN, Lijaha Sisu campaign launched
A new organisation, Swaziland Economic Justice Network (SEJUN) was launched at Ezindwendweni High School in Lavumisa.
SEJUN is a coalition of non-profit organisations seeking to open up space, in the quest for alternatives, for Swazis to engage on issues that impact on their livelihoods. The launch was attended by the general public where also a campaign aimed at eradicating hunger and poverty was launched. The campaign is called Lijaha Sisu.
SEJUN’s Bong’nkhosi Ntshangase explained that the campaign was based on a food sovereignty framework that embraces the fundamental right to adequate food.
“At the core of the campaign is the fight for agrarian reform, with the aim of facilitating equal access to land and ultimately addressing the food security problem currently dogging the country,” he said. The campaign promotes agro-ecology as a sustainable model of food production and a better alternative to the highly polluting models of agriculture, and one that has the potential to mitigate the effects of climate change and environmental damage.
“With this campaign, the network seeks to ensure that the dream to eradicate poverty and hunger is realised for the most poor and marginalised communities. It hopes to realise this goal through empowering ordinary people with the necessary tools, knowledge or skills to fight the scourge of poverty. We hope to build a vibrant economic justice movement with the capacity to challenge obtaining economic injustices and social inequalities from their historical foundations, as opposed to only tackling the immediate symptoms of a deep-rooted problem,” said Ntshangase.
Makhosi needs E1 000 top-up
A disabled woman of Mantabeni is appealing for money to pay school fees for her son, Makhosi Masuku who is doing form one at Siphocosini High.
The boy is being paid for under the OVC programme run by the deputy prime minister’s office but his mother Elizabeth Nhlabatsi said an amount of E1 000 had to come from her pocket as top-up. Makhosi’s father is also disabled hence cannot pay for the boy’s school fees.
“He is paid for under the OVC fund but we still need to top-up and buy him school uniform. His father is also unemployed because he is disabled,” Nhlabatsi said.
Makhosi is the last born out of three children with the other two also unemployed as they could not finish school.
Anyone who may wish to help the boy can contact the Swazi Observer.