The tragedy of malnutrition in SA


The tragedy of malnutrition in SA

Think about this for a moment: Malnutrition means one in four South African children will never reach their full cognitive potential. By ANNELIESE BURGESS.

STATISTICS often tell stories packaged as neat sets of numbers, but they can also numb our senses and sanitise harsh truths. 

With that in mind, read the following astonishing figures about our country. And try, with every word, to feel the absolute grotesqueness of the tragedy these numbers reveal.

One in 10 South Africans say they experience hunger every day.More than a quarter of South African children suffer irrevocable physical and neurocognitive damage from malnutrition.For many of the nine million children fed by school feeding schemes, this meal is the only one they will get that day.In March last year, seven children in Butterworth died of acute malnutrition. Eight more fought for their lives in Lusikisiki's hospital. And this is the tip of the iceberg. The UN says acute malnutrition is a major underlying reason for infant mortality and is linked to a third of all infant deaths in hospitals. Figures from the research organisation Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity show that it now costs R838 a month to provide a child with a basic healthy diet. This is significantly higher than the National Treasury's R663 monthly national poverty line or the R500 Sassa child grant.One survey showed that only 23% of children aged 6-23 months had a “minimum acceptable diet". ..

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