THE COVID-19 induced lockdown has worsened the food security situation at household level, in the process, compromising the nutrition status of children and pregnant women, amidst indications that a total 214 children were admitted for treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) by the month of May, 2020.
By Michael Gwarisa
According to the 2020 Zimbabwe Humanitarian Response Plan which was launched in April this year, around 7 million people across the country are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) report also highlighted that the food gap for a second-year running will be close to one million tonnes.
In an interview with HealthTimes, Zimbabwe Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance (ZCSOSUNA) National Coordinator, Mr Kudakwashe Zombe said a number of children had developed different forms of malnutrition within a short space of time.
This has a negative impact on nutritional status of the citizens because the nutritional needs will remain high with over 1.1 million children and women requiring nutritional assistance since there is a food gap. Since the beginning of May this year, 187, 242 children were screened for Acute Malnutrition at community as well as facility or primary healthcare facility level and some secondary health facility level. They were screened for Acute Malnutrition across 25 priority districts.
“Of those who were screened, 306 were admitted for treatment of Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM). Which means that they had developed signs of receiving poor nutrition within a short space of time but the signs were moderate. 214 were admitted for treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition,” said Mr Zombe.
The 214 children according to Mr Zombe were kids who were identified to be suffering from poor nutrition and they had complications as well. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Severe Acute Malnutrition Severe acute malnutrition is defined by a very low weight for height (below -3z scores of the median WHO growth standards), by visible severe wasting, or by the presence of nutritional oedema.
“This indicates that the rate at which malnutrition is increasing is high and of those who were also screened, less children received Vitamin A supplementation in April compared to the preceding months. This was a result of government’s restrictions and because people could not travel or move around freely, the number of children who received Vitamin A were less.
“So these are some of the impact that COVID-19 is having on the citizens especially on pregnant women and children. So what are we doing as civil society organizations, some of our members are implementing cash transfers with some identified vulnerable households and they are receiving cash to buffer their food security at household level.”
Other organizations are doing food distribution targeting vulnerable household households in the cities and communal areas.