POLOKWANE – The plea came during a Child Awareness Day hosted by Save the Children South Africa (SCSA) and provincial government, recently. The event was part of SCSA’s health and nutrition project called Sireletsa Bana.
The GlaxoSmithKline-funded project aims to contribute towards universal health coverage for children under the age of five in the province. The severe acute malnutrition case fatality rate in the province stands at 8,3% and immunisation coverage is at 65%, which is lower than the national target of 92%.
“As the Department of Health, we have a problem at the moment of not being able to talk to patients or the public as a whole. When we partner with the community and NGOs, however, it’s easy to reach a large number of people in the community. Mothers are getting more knowledge on how to start feeding the child properly in order to avoid issues of children getting malnutrition,” said Ida Mathabathe, the Acting Deputy Director for Nutrition Services at the Department Health in the Capricorn district.
Mathabathe also urged the community to donate breast milk at the Mankweng Hospital, the only government owned facility in the province with a breast milk bank.
Another breast milk bank for the Sekhukhune district is also in the pipeline. Residents said events like these make a huge difference.
“I am glad events like this are held here in the rural areas, as there’s limited information relating to children’s health. I am also glad there are mobile clinics to help children get their immunisations,” Mathapelo Mphahlele, a resident, said.
The South Africa Social Security Agency and South African Police Services also provided services to the community during the event. A pledge to protect children against violence and diseases was also signed by all stakeholders and people in the community.
Local gospel star, Ngwana Ledwaba, entertained the guests with her singing and dancing performances.