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Regional News of Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Source: Ebenezer Afanyi Dadzie | Ultimate Radio

Kumasi: Children die of starvation, malnutrition

Motherless children at the Maternal and Child Health Hospital at Pampaso in Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region are said to be dying of starvation and malnutrition.

The facility which serves as a rehabilitation center takes care of children whose mothers die during childbirth and rarely have capable relatives to provide adequate care for them. The babies are kept until six months, a time they can be weaned off by their families while the hospital continues to provide for their livelihood.

The children being taken care of are those whose mothers died through delivery and other conditions such as HIV. Ironically, some of their fathers are alive, but are either unable to fend for their children or simply irresponsible. The children, who are between one month and five years, depend on food, money and clothing distributed by authorities of the hospital and philanthropists.

Some of the about 200 children are living with their elderly grandmothers who visit the hospital for health care, food and clothing to cater for them. These are mainly poor old grandmothers with no economic activity to adequately provide for the children. Sadly, most of these grandmothers are sometimes unable to foot the cost of visiting the hospital for the children’s food and this has led to the demise of several children in that state.

A sixty-four-year-old unemployed woman, Cecilia Owusu, who takes care of a set of eleven month old twins told Ultimate Radio’s Nana Oye Diabene that keeping the children of her deceased daughter alive is a really daunting task for her.

“I live at Asafo, but when my daughter died in child birth, I had to move to Nkawie where my daughter used to live. I didn’t have any work then, and so I had to rely on gifts from others for our livelihood. I once brought the children for weighing here when a nurse called Ataa recommended me to some whites who have been supporting me.”

Aged Madam Cecelia and her twin grandchildren are receiving support from a Non-Governmental Organisation, Heart To Hand, which came to her aid when the children fell sick from starvation and malnutrition.

Director of the NGO, Lian Loeth, told Ultimate Radio, there were several of such cases that needed attention. She says they were particularly touched by the plight of the children when they visited Cecelia at her residence.

“We saw her when the children were four months old and she was not able to take care of them. She was only coming once in a month to collect the food and all the children were underweight,” she said.

Administrator and Nutritionist at the Center, Sandra Pomaah Asumanin, said the hospital in their quest to ensure the survival of the children are compelled to provide virtually everything including transportation fares to enable the mothers attend the hospital regularly.

“It’s not easy for them. They don’t have money to even buy drugs, and even the transportation to bring them here for the free food is very difficult for them,” she lamented.

Mrs. Pomaah Asumaning recounted several incidents where children they had discharged to their families had died just because of the inability to feed them or come to the hospital for medical care, food and drugs.

“Recently, we discharged a six-months-old baby to her family. The baby was very healthy, but two weeks later, the grandmother came to tell us that the child was dead. When we asked how it happened, she said the child had severe diarrhea. They keep dying in their houses,” she emphasized.

With the difficulties these relatives are facing in catering for the motherless children, one can only hope that more of them do not die out of starvation or grow to become social misfits and perpetrators of social vices in the country.

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