Prolonged lockdown could trigger increase in malnutrition cases: Doctors

Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) has said prolonged lockdown could trigger an increase in malnutrition cases in the country.

Malnutrition is basically lack of nutrition, caused by not having enough to eat, not eating enough of the right things or being unable to use the food that one does eat.

Zimbabwe has been under lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 since March 30.

According to Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) 2020 the national global acute malnutrition prevalence is 3.7 percent and the national severe acute malnutrition prevalence is 1.45 percent.

More than 2 500 children under the age of 5 years have been admitted for treatment of severe acute malnutrition in 2020.

Speaking during a Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD)-organised meeting on public resource management in the era of COVID-19 recently, ZHDA vice president Brian Mbanje said malnutrition cases were likely to surge under lockdown.

“Issues of malnutrition is indirect effect brought by COVID-19 as 90 percent of the Zimbabwean population is informally employed and the lockdown has forced most people in the informal sector to remain at home and those who are formally employed have had their jobs lost,” said Mbanje.

“Indirectly the economy is affected as this means nothing is produced. If these people used to have three meals a day it means they have downsides to either two or one meal a day. If they used to buy meat when they were working it simply means they are no longer doing that or eat it once a week or alternated with other sources.”

He said malnutrition cases have a mortality rate.

“We already have malnutrition cases in Mpilo Hospital in the paediatric ward,” he explained. “Malnutrition has a mortality rate. Basically, our bodies need proteins to boost our immune system so if one doesn’t have it they can be affected by COVID -19 since it targets the immune system. Our population is malnourished and our healthy systems are already in shambles, so imagine if COVID-19 is to hit hard.”

He added that the coronavirus had shifted the world’s attention to focus on the pandemic and seemingly forgetting other potentially fatal non-COVID medical conditions.

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)