Demand for food reserves, restriction of marketing of unhealthy foods and food safety in uganda

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The government has a constitutional obligation to establish national food reserves under Objective XXII (b) of the 1995 constitution. This  duty helps to guarantee food security, mitigates hunger, prevents malnutrition and ensures that everyone enjoys the right to livelihood.  COVID 19 pandemic has worsened malnutrition and related deaths in Uganda. Food reserves would have therefore been a critical tool in realising food security especially in times of unforeseen economic hardships or natural calamities like the COVID 19 pandemic.

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Proper nutrition is undoubtedly one of the key factors for early childhood development. It is however unfortunate that in most developing countries, nutrition is very poor and malnutrition among children and mothers is a major cause of infant mortality, stunted growth and underweight.

The UNICEF Uganda nutrition statistics of 2018 show that 3.6% of the children in Uganda are suffering from moderate acute nutrition and 1.3% have severe acute nutrition. The Ministry of Health report indicates that the infant mortality rate in Uganda as of 2018 was 33 deaths per 1000 live births and one of the key underlying causes was malnutrition.  Mothers and pregnant women need to be encouraged to pay keen attention of their nutritional welfare and emotional wellbeing during pregnancy and after the birth of their children. This is a major requirement as scientific research has highlighted that the first 1000 days as the most crucial for a child’s growth and optimal development.

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Background

The government of Uganda is under a legal mandate to uphold, protect, and fulfill the rights of all Ugandans including children’s rights to safety, health, adequate food, and well-being. Many Ugandans are however suffering and at risk of chronic, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers, and other obesity-related conditions yet these can be prevented.

In Uganda, Non-Communicable Diseases kill up to 100,000 people annually, which is 35% of the total annual deaths. Uganda is a member of the World Health Organisation and passed a resolution to act on the main risk factors for Non-Communicable Diseases that is the unhealthy diet. Unhealthy diets start in childhood and build up throughout life; associated with overweight and obesity and children must maintain a healthy weight and consume foods that are low in saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt in order to reduce future risk of non-communicable diseases.

Marketing, advertising and broadcast of unhealthy foods and beverages in Uganda by the media is done before and after the watershed time lines, exposing children to unhealthy diets compromising their safety, right to health and the right to adequate food.

The respondents have failed and omitted to protect children from the adverse impact of marketing of unhealthy diets on children’s health in accordance with the rights of children as acknowledged by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the right to adequate food, as set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (7), and consistent with the United Nations guidelines for consumer protection.

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Press Conference on World Food Safety Day

In December 2018, the UN General Assembly designated 7th June as World Food Safety Day. In the year 2020, the day was held the theme “Food safety, everyone’s business”

A press confrence was held on that day by civil society organisations promoting the right to food in Uganda including The Food Rights Alliance (FRA), Centre for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT) and the Southern and Eastern Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI).

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