Poor nutrition is becoming a major problem in parts of the Congo due to the displacement of people following violence and natural disasters, according to Dr. Philippe Okonda Akasa, health operations coordinator with The United Methodist Church in East Congo.
“We have recorded these cases of poor nutrition in Kibombo, Tunda, Kasongo and Bukavu, where there are hundreds of poorly nourished children who have been registered in the Irambo health area in Bukavu since January 2018,” Okonda Akasa said, adding that the near-starvation conditions have led to the deaths of some children.
Dr. Damas Lushima of Irambo United Methodist Hospital said many of those suffering from poor nutrition lack financial resources and family support.
“The cause of poor nutrition for Bukavu is on the one hand caused by displacement of the population fleeing violence and who live today with host families, and on the other hand by the high cost of the life of the population living in the Irambo neighborhood, who are sometimes either orphaned or abandoned by the parents (for financial reasons).”
Dr. Marie Claire Manafundu, program officer of the Maternal and Child Health Program in Eastern Congo and wife of East Congo Area Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda, visited Irambo Hospital at the beginning of June. She reported finding poorly nourished children and urged for a quick intervention in order to avoid the worst. The church is seeking help from the United Methodist Committee on Relief and Global Ministries’ Global Health unit.
Lushima said he has registered four deaths since January in his health area. He added that he has been purchasing and distributing biscuits to children twice a week during postnatal consultations, but more funding support is needed.
“We have already started the process of pleading with our partners and finally finding an answer to this problem of poor nutrition in our health areas in Eastern Congo,” Okonda Akasa said.