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Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni. Photo: Carl Court/AP

 

July 31, 2021 (KAMPALA) - President Yoweri Museveni on Friday announced the lifting of the lockdown in which public transport has been allowed to operate and arcades allowed to reopen but under strict adherence to Standard Operating Procedures.

On June 18, the president announced an immediate 42-day lockdown imposed on the country in a move aimed at mitigating the surging cases of Covid-19 as the country entered into a second wave of the pandemic.

In a televised address on Friday, however, Museveni said the lockdown was of great help leading to a reduction in daily confirmed cases from 1735 to an average of 71 per day now whereas the positivity rate has also gone down from 22% to only 8%.

“Therefore, when this crisis started I had to intervene to protect health workers from being overwhelmed and to save the population from massive deaths. There has since been a reduction in daily deaths and admission of critical patients,” he said.

The president said there were three options including fully reopening, partial reopening or continuing with the total lockdown but noted government had to strike a balance between controlling the spread of the virus on one hand and the mitigating effect of the lockdown on the economy and the general wellbeing of Ugandans on the other hand.

Museveni said the task force decided that the country goes with the partial lockdown but under strict Standard Operating Procedures to be followed by the population.

“Partial opening up will see an increased number of infections in the first week since everyone will be coming out after the lockdown but this would later reduce. It is therefore good to ensure observance of SOPs in the partial lockdown. Based on scientists’ advice, I now revise my directives,” Museveni said.

“Therefore, curfew is maintained at 7 pm and all persons except security and those cleared to move at night should be in their homes. Public transport will reopen at 50% capacity beginning Monday.”

According to the president, public transport associations should regulate themselves and failure to comply with the decision to reopen will be reversed whereas boda bodas are allowed to carry one passenger but stop at 6 pm.

The president noted that private vehicles are now allowed to move across district borders but carrying a maximum of three persons including the driver whereas shopping malls and arcades are reopened.

“Bars remain closed and security should arrest and charge owners who breach this directive. Performing artists and their concerts are still closed but they can perform virtually,” Museveni said.

The president said outdoor sports events are now opened but under strict observance of Standard Operating Procedures.

The Uganda leader, however, said churches, mosques and other places of worship are still closed for another 60 days but urged them to use virtual prayers.

On schools, the president said these are too still closed until learners are vaccinated.

“If you don’t observe that and you think you are clever you may get problems and also cause us problems. If these measures are taken, we may avoid the third wave. Maybe we will have vaccinated and got the cure that we are testing,” Museveni said.

According to the Ministry of Health, results for tests done on July, 28, Uganda registered 393 new Covid cases to take the number to 93675 cumulative cases whereas 23 new deaths put the cumulative number at 2661.

A total of 81992 Covid patients have fully recovered since March 2020 when Uganda registered its first Covid case. - Sudan Tribune

(ST)

Photo via Anadolu Agency

 

Deep-rooted cultural beliefs that breast milk makes the child lazy or feel thirsty have made Tanzania hold the infamous distinction of having the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

According to 2016 statistics available from the National Bureau of Statistics, the East African country was reporting 556 deaths per 100,000 expecting mothers annually. The Demographic Health Survey has recorded that only 59% of infants in the country are being breastfed exclusively in their first six months of life.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Mariana Sanga, 31, mother of four children living at Lunyanywi village in Tanzania’s southern Njombe region, said when she gave birth to her first child, her aunt advised her not to breastfeed the baby.

Instead of her milk, she was feeding the baby with water mixed with sugar and soft porridge. The advice of her aunt has left her children dangerously malnourished.

“My firstborn is stunted because I did not breastfeed her. I made a terrible mistake which I will live to regret,” she said.

Sanga is among many women in the impoverished region who mistakenly believed in wrong cultural beliefs and compromised the health of her children.

At Lunyanywi village these beliefs and taboos are deeply rooted that many women neglect health advice.

Lydia Semwaiko, 31, who lives in Ludewa district in Njombe with her family, said she stopped breastfeeding after a few months because she could not enjoy intercourse with her husband.

“I did not want him to sleep with other women that is why I stopped breastfeeding my child,” she said.

Some communities in Njombe still believe mother’s milk becomes unclean if she is involved in extramarital relationships. They also believe that a baby can gain weight faster when fed with porridge during the first few days after birth.

While most women in the impoverished region have realized the power of colostrum –thick milk produced by mothers soon after delivery, the cultural beliefs are still keeping many mothers away from newborn babies, who consider this nutritious liquid dirty, because of its yellow color.
Requires sustained awareness

Local health experts say to express the need for a sustained awareness campaign to remove these incorrect beliefs.

Antimony Massawe, a leading pediatric specialist based in Dar es Salaam, is trying hard to remove these beliefs and create awareness about breastfeeding.

“Breastfeeding is the baby’s first vaccine. It provides protection against life-threatening conditions and promotes healthy growth,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also recommended exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for at least two years with a supplementary diet.

Health workers say, besides cultural beliefs, the lack of support from the spouse also prevents women from breastfeeding their babies.

To dispel these myths, the government has identified and trained over 6,000 community health workers to create awareness about nutrition and to educate mothers about the importance of breastfeeding.

“We are aiming to reach both mothers and fathers so that they can work together to improve their family’ nutrition,” said Yusta Tarimo, a district community health worker in Njombe.

According to Tarimo sometimes babies want to breastfeed just for comfort or put themselves to sleep.

At Lupembe village some women say when babies start putting hands into their mouths and chew them it is a sign that they are ready for solid foods.

Asha Mwita, 22, said when she eats and her baby looks at her admiringly, she feeds her with solid food.

“I want her to get used to solid food as I am tired of breastfeeding,” she said. - Kizito Makoye, Anadolu Agency

Photo via Radio Tamazuj

 

South Sudan’s Ministry of Health and the UN children's agency, UNICEF are reiterating their calls to policymakers to protect and promote the practice of breastfeeding in South Sudan. The two institutions are urging breastfeeding mothers across the country to increase the practice of exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to six months of life.

This comes as the world commemorates World Breastfeeding Week from 1 to 7 August,

Speaking during a press conference in UNICEF Compound in Juba on Thursday, Rita Juan Demetry, the Senior Nutrition Inspector at the Ministry of Health echoed the calls.

“The Ministry of health together with UNICEF and all the implementing partners would like to urge all citizens and duty bearers of South Sudan that we must protect and protect exclusive breastfeeding of infants until they reach six (6) months of life. Because breast milk is the best milk, breast is the best milk that you don’t find in the market,” she said.

Demetry emphasized that mothers across South Sudan should breastfeed their children within the first 6 months from delivery.

 “This simple and natural act of breastfeeding is one of the most valuable gifts a mother can give to her child. Exclusive breastfeeding to an infant is so important from zero to 6 months of life. This is so important and it starts from within an hour of birth up to six months. And this is to nourish the child and protect the child from many childhood illnesses and malnutrition,” she said.

Rita Demetry says more needs to be done although South Sudan has increased the breastfeeding rate from 45% in 2010 to 68% in 2020.

“Although South Sudan has made significant progress in increasing the exclusive breastfeeding rate since independence, it is not enough because 3 out of 10 children today are still being denied their right of breastfeeding and the start of life,” she said.

In a statement to the media during the press conference in Juba on Wednesday, the UNICEF Nutrition Officer, Jesca Wude Murye explained the importance of breastfeeding for babies.

“Breast milk contains antibodies that protect against diseases, and then breastmilk is ready at the right temperature, breastmilk contains enough water and is easy to digest. When you look at the breast milk you don’t need to get it to be heated, the baby just sucks immediately and they are okay and comfortable. It helps the jaw and teeth development of the child, it also promotes optimal physical growth and cognitive development and then long term benefits in terms of reducing risks of obesity and diabetes,” UNICEF Nutrition Officer Jesca Wude Murye explained.

Murye added that breast milk is whole food for babies for up to 6 months before introducing complementary foods to them. - Radio Tamazuj

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