Namibia: PM Refutes Claims of Malnutrition Deaths at Amarika

25 November 2019

Ongwediva — Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, during a visit to Amarika in the Otamanzi constituency of the Omusati Region last week, refuted claims that children in that area have died as a result of a lack of food.

Although the prime minister confirmed that the children were malnourished, she indicated that there were underlying diseases and causes such as not being well fed that caused the children's death.

"So we have confirmed that nobody died as a result of a lack of food but we have learned that three children were affected by malnutrition and died. But malnutrition was not the cause of death; there were post-underlying diseases because you know that when you are ill and you are ill fed then you succumb to whatever illness. It is that when you are suffering from malnutrition that you are vulnerable to other diseases," said Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

The prime minister visited Amarika on Thursday to assess the implementation progress of government projects and programmes.

New Era in September reported that three children at Amarika died of malnutrition.

Community members New Era spoke to at the time said they did not have food, as the area has not received sufficient rain for two consecutive years.

The community also complained that they had not received drought relief food at the time, saying the last consignment of drought relief was only received in July.

The communities' sentiments at the time were confirmed by the constituency councillor Johannes Iyambo who related that food was only given to those affected by malnutrition as they received the last consignment of food in July.

It was further established that about seven children at the time were put on the malnutrition programme at the clinic where they were fed daily.

"When we received the report we visited the clinic, we visited their homes and they were provided with food. We also gave them food in excess which was stored at the school for their parents to collect once they had finished the first consignment," Iyambo said at the time.

Headwoman at Amarika Ottilie Iipinge during the prime minister's visit on Thursday confirmed that seven houses were affected by malnutrition from which three children had died as a result.

"The children really died of malnutrition, but it's also not that there is really no food. In some instances parents and caretakers do not really take care of the children," said Ottilie Iipinge.

In addition to the drought relief programme in place, the prime minister said there are other programmes such as that of marginalised communities under the Office of the Vice President as well as the Ministry of Health and Social Services that are jointly fighting malnutrition.

The prime minister said the unfortunate situation in the fight against malnutrition and ensuring that the people are food secure is that communities are not making use of the programmes in place.

During the same visit, the Ongandjera traditional leader Johannes Mupiya donated seven bags of mahangu to seven affected households.

A further 46 bags are expected to be handed over to other affected households.

*Additional reporting by Simeon Martin, MICT Omusati Region.

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