COMMEMORATION OF WORLD FOOD DAY – URBAN TV
The Honorable Minister, we write from the Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT) to first of all, thank you and the Government of Uganda for all the tireless efforts undertaken to manage the COVID 19 pandemic. Uganda is undoubtedly one of the countries that took swift measures to protect its citizens as soon as news about the pandemic broke out. One of the most efficient measures was closing schools, protecting our children from contracting the deadly virus and ordering for a total lockdown.
Proper nutrition and hydration are vital. People who eat a well-balanced diet tend to be healthier with stronger immune systems and lower risk of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases. So you should eat a variety of fresh and unprocessed foods every day to get the vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, protein and antioxidants your body needs. Drink enough water. Avoid sugar, fat and salt to significantly lower your risk of overweight, obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
“…….Thanks to CEFROHT and AVAAZ foundation; I do not have to worry about food for this month, and this will certainly help me rebound back to independently feed my family…….” Monica-Mukono district
Demand for food reserves, restriction of marketing of unhealthy foods and food safety in uganda
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.
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.
The COVID 19 pandemic is wreaking havoc across the globe. The crisis is detrimentally affecting all civil, political, economic, social, cultural, and developmental rights. In Uganda, the government put up measures to prevent the spread of this virus and one of the key elements was a lockdown to control congestion in public places and temporary closing some offices and businesses.
Many people have bought and are keeping food to take them and their families through this pandemic. They buy food with long shelf life from shops. It should be noted that there is no mechanism of tracing for food in Uganda.
Government has also adopted the centralized mechanism of distributing food to the vulnerable population in the districts of Wakiso and Kampala which comprise of many urban dwellers that depend on a daily income to survive.
In a bid to support this effort and to assist this good cause, many corporate bodies, industries, companies and individuals offered food items to the National Task Force majorly consisting of maize flour and beans.
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.
Did you know that you have a constitutional right to demand and defend your social economic rights?
Jorina House Gayaza
(+256) 393 225468