By Farai Sibanda
Gwanda, January 10, 2014 – Malnutrition has hit thousands of villagers especially children in Matabeleland South province as severe hunger stalks the area due to a ravaging drought caused by poor rains in past two seasons.
This has seen most children suffering from malnutrition admitted in hospitals and clinics in the province as they have no food for consumption.
Malnutrition is a condition caused by lack of food and it also results from eating a diet in which certain nutrients are lacking.
Recently, Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa said more than 100 children are dying daily countrywide due to malnutrition with the largest number in Matabeleland South province.
A Radio VOP newscrew which visited Gwanda rural, Insiza, Kezi and Umzingwane districts in Matabeleland South province this week witnessed how several children suffering from malnutrition are being treated at hospitals and clinics in the area.
Health officials from these districts pleaded with aid agencies to intervene saying that the situation will worsen if no urgent measures are taken.
“The situation is now out of control as serious hunger has hit us. We now have most children suffering from malnutrition due shortage of food. People are spending several days without having a meal and the lucky ones are having one meal per day,” said Misheck Ncube, the village head of Nsimbi village in Gwanda’s Garanyemba area.
Some villagers in the district said they are convinced that the government has given up on the hunger situation in their area as there are no systems in place to fight the drought.
“We last received some 10 kgs of maize meal per homestead mid-last year from a local non-government organisation. The government has done nothing for us, maybe they have given up. I have two grandchildren which are suffering from malnutrition and are receiving treatment at Sengezane Clinic right now,” said Rita Sibanda of Sengezane area in Gwanda South.
According to the new constitution, the Zimbabwe government must make sure that every child under the age of eighteen years, has the right and to education, health care services, nutrition and shelter.
A nurse based at Esigodini Hospital in Umzingwane district said : “We are treating several children who are suffering from malnutrition on a daily basis and some are even admitted. We can see more dropping out schools as they open next week.”
She pleaded with aid agencies to intervene saying that the situation will worsen if no urgent measures are taken.
Matabeleland South Provincial Medical Director Dr William Busumani confirmed that malnutrition has hit the province saying the Ministry of Health and Child Care is embarking on a programme to fight the disease.
“Due to poor rains which the province has been receiving in past seasons a serious drought has hit this area and because of that we have seen an upsurge in cases of malnutrition affecting children due to the shortage of food. But the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s nutrition department is working hard to eradicate such diseases,” said Busumani.
“Community based programmes are being put in place by the Ministry to deal with malnutrition and other diseases caused by hunger,” Busumani added.
Insiza South legislator Malaki Nkomo said “he is running around” trying to source food aid so that the residents of the area won’t die of hunger.
Zimbabwe is one of the six southern African countries hit by drought this year leaving over 14 million people in the affected countries in need of urgent food aid.