Catholic bishops launch urgent aid appeal … as pregnant women give birth to children with kwashiorkor

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SOME pregnant women in some drought-hit areas in Zimbabwe are increasingly giving birth to children with signs of kwashiorkor, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) has said.

ZCBC president Archbishop Robert Ndlovu made the revelation yesterday during the launch of an urgent appeal for US$1 million dollars for food aid against the backdrop of the worsening drought which has left over 8 million people short of food in Zimbabwe.

“I met my health coordinator yesterday briefing me about the hospitals. You know we work in hospitals. One of the things which really struck me was the mothers giving birth to children already showing signs of not being healthy, with kwashiorkor. She was saying to me, the danger is that this will affect these children for the rest of their life even in mental development,” said Ndlovu.

He said as a result of the drought, many mothers are also failing to get adequate food.

“The mothers eat one meal a day; they don’t produce enough milk for these children so there is need to give them something. ZCBC gives them (food) for a month or so but once that stops what next? When mothers come themselves, they show signs of not being well fed. The children show signs that they are already developing a kind of kwashiorkor,” Ndlovu said.

The ZCBC president said the US$1 million dollars they want to raise will be used to buy basic food stuffs such as maize meal, beans and cooking oil as well as cash for the most vulnerable.“We need all the help we can get. So far from our Caritas friends, we have raised $200 000 but we are targeting US$1 million,” said Ndlovu.

The ZCBC president added that a needs assessment carried out by their emergency and humanitarian assistance agency, Caritas, showed that region 4 and 5 are the most hit by drought.

“The needs assessment showed that places like Mudzi, Chivi, Hwange, Mbire, Bulilima, Zaka, Mwenezi, Chirumanzi, Gweru South, Chipinge, Mount Darwin, Mutoko, Hwedza, Mutoko and Chikomba are in dire straits. Also, in Gokwe North, which recently had floods, crops were destroyed. Matabeleland South is also in bad shape as well as Harare,” he said.

Ndlovu said ZCBC appeal for aid is meant to complement the government’s efforts.

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