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.
As the lockdown measures are being eased, His Excellency the President announced that schools will be opened on the 20th of October 2020 for primary and secondary school candidates, and final year students of tertiary institutions. Thereafter, this ministry announced Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be observed by schools when they re-open.
We commend the Ministry for coming up with the said SOPs, however our main concern is that food and nutrition were not included yet the first line response mechanisms is good immunity. The government has already highlighted that that particular foods boost the body’s immunity and are key weapons to fight against the virus. As much as social distancing and wearing of masks are important preventive mechanisms, body immunity is much more important.
Hon. Minister, we draw your attention to the fact that though the vaccine for this virus has not yet been found, government passed the COVID-19 dietary guidelines, which are a must follow in schools in case they re-open. Scientists advise that the nutritional status of an individual and dietary nutrient impacts the immune system and gives the body resilience against the virus.
Children have rights guaranteed in international and regional treaties to which Uganda is signatory. The children’s rights to health, safe environments, right to safe food and freedom from inhuman treatment are protected in the constitution and the Children’s Act.
Scientists have recommended a balanced diet with a high intake of fruits and vegetables especially those containing Vitamin A, C, D, E and zinc to support the body’s ability to fight respiratory infections, reduce the risk of flu and colds; and reduce the duration of common colds. The table below shows a number of foods that can boost the body’s immunity to fight against COVID-19 in addition to ordinary servings.
|Vitamin C rich fruits (especially citruses)||lemon, tangerine, oranges, grapefruits, broccoli, spinach, pawpaws.|
|Vitamin A||Leafy Vegetables, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes|
|Zinc||Pumpkin seeds, beans, nuts, whole grains.|
|Those with essential chemical compounds||Onions, Turmeric, red pepper Ginger Honey, Garlic, Beans, pumpkins.|
|Others||Silver fish (mukene), fatty fish, chicken,Milk, Mushrooms.|
It is our considered opinion that to avoid legal intricacies which are eminently foreseeable due to threats and violations of children rights that are likely to occur, the following should be implemented before schools re-open:
- Incorporate food and nutrition into the COVID-19 SOPs for schools and healthy diets.
- The Presidential Guidelines on healthy diets and physical activity should be operationalized in all schools.
- Ban all junk foods’ advertisements and sell in all schools including the sugar sweetened beverages like sodas.
We therefore request that your office urgently incorporates food and nutrition to the SOPs for schools; that schools will provide foods that can efficiently boost our children’s immunity.
FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY
For Centre for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT)
Cc: Office of the Prime Minister
Cc: Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development
Cc: Ministry of Health
Cc: Ministry of ICT and National Guidance