Tooro People’s Conference: Leaders,Health Experts Call For Urgent Action To Alarming Stunted Growth In The Region

Tooro People’s Conference: Leaders,Health Experts Call For Urgent Action To Alarming Stunted Growth In The Region

By Andrew Irumba

Kampala: Local leaders and health experts in Tooro have expressed concerns over the surging cases of stunted growth of young children in Tooro region.

The concerns were raised on Friday, 22 December 2023 during the annual Tooro People’s Conference in Fort Portal, where community leaders and health experts are gathering for a two day conference aimed at finding solutions to social economic challenges in the sub region.

“The conference’s primary objective was to illuminate the causes behind stunted growth and suggest preventive measures to uplift the community”, Dr.Bramble Bernard Carlos, one of the keynote speakers who delivered an extensive research paper on the profound impact of nutrition on brain development noted.

Bramble underscored the crucial role of nutrients in the formation of neural connections and drew attention to the repercussions of insufficient nutrition during pregnancy. Dr. Carlos elucidated that children born to malnourished mothers might exhibit smaller neurons, resulting in challenges related to learning and comprehension.

“Those wires, or neurons, are essential for information flow in the brain. If a pregnant woman lacks proper nutrition, these neurons may not form or may be smaller, resulting in stunted growth,” Dr. Carlos added during the conference that took place at St. Mary’s Kinyamasika in Fort Portal Tourism City.

He went on to connect stunted growth to challenges in education, stating that children with limited neurons may struggle in school, repeat grades, and eventually drop out further calling upon the community to address the issue of teenage pregnancies, as they contribute significantly to stunted growth and its long-term effects on society.

While addressing the conference Catherine Kemigabo noted that teenage pregnancy is one of the biggest challenges in the region that needs special attention.

“Teenage pregnancy is a risk factor for stunted growth. If we don’t address this challenge, we’ll continue to see more stunted children, limiting innovation and progress in our region”

The conference also presented sobering statistics, revealing that Tooro Sub-region had the highest prevalence of stunted children in the country. Mrs Kemigabo attributed this to various factors, including teenage pregnancies, malnutrition, and the decline in the quality of food due to economic challenges.

Hon. Margret Muhanga, the state minister for health in charge of primary health care, while addressing the conference, emphasized the need for collective action to combat stunted growth. She highlighted the societal issues contributing to the problem, such as alcoholism, early pregnancies, and poor dietary choices.

The minister urged the audience to engage in health promotion efforts, encouraging healthier eating habits and lifestyles. She stressed the importance of educating communities about the impact of nutrition on overall well-being.

Speaking during the conference, Fort Portal Tourism City Member of Parliament, Alex Ruhunda, emphasized the importance of the annual gathering for the people of Tooro to discuss current issues affecting the region and explore growth trends.

Ruhunda highlighted the conference’s evolution, stating, “We agreed seven years ago that we must always have our annual meeting where we have a two-day conference to discuss the current situations affecting the lives of our people and the trends for the growth of our land.”

The MP stressed the significance of bringing together people from across the globe during the Christmas holiday, fostering knowledge sharing and community bonding. This year’s focus revolves around human capital development, recognizing it as a key factor in societal impact, innovation, and leadership.

“Human capital development is the key. It is the key that creates impact in societies because if you don’t have developed brains, then you have less innovators and you have poor leadership,” Ruhunda said.

Addressing the issue of stunted growth in the region, Ruhunda expressed concern about Tooro leading in standards and emphasized the need to prioritize and address the challenge. He underscored the impact of alcoholism and the need to find ways to keep the population busy and productive.

Speaking on the failure of regulatory bodies, Ruhunda criticized the National Drug Authority and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards for not effectively monitoring chemicals entering the country. He urged the population to take matters into their own hands, advocating for the adoption of organic farming methods and the use of quality, human-friendly chemicals.

Ruhunda also emphasized the importance of unity among the people of Tooro.

“The last message comes that united we stand, divided we fall. The people of Toro must learn that it is through the unity of purpose that we can survive and prosper,” he concluded, stressing the urgency of developing a collective mindset for the common good of society.

As the conference came to a close for day one, Kagaba Steven Rubombora, representing concerned citizens, expressed frustration with the apathy of some individuals towards the well-being of society. He called for unity in addressing the challenges posed by stunted growth and malnutrition.

The Tooro People’s Conference concluded with a commitment from community leaders and health experts to collaborate on implementing preventive measures and fostering awareness about the importance of nutrition in the region. The hope is that these efforts will lead to positive changes in the health and well-being of the Tooro community.

The conference started in 2016 with the aim of galvanizing unity in Tooro across geographical locations, religions, tribes, professions, and economic status for self-definition and identification of aspirations.

The conference, a brain-child of the Isaazi ly’Abantu bakuru Aba Tooro– or Tooro Elders Forum is meant to bring together various stakeholders to discuss key issues and priorities of the people of Tooro and to promote unity.

Some Of The Pictures From The Conference an accessible web community

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