ZIMBABWE has recorded a sharp increase in pellagra cases, with 831 cases registered between January and May 2020, a 100% increase from 400 over the same period last year.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Pellagra is a serious condition that is caused by low levels of niacin, due to either malnutrition or an absorption problem.
If left untreated, it can cause death.
Symptoms include inflamed skin, diarrhoea, dementia, and sores in the mouth.
Areas of the skin exposed to either sunlight or friction are typically affected first.
United Nations for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs blames malnutrition resulting from drought and an unforgiving socio-economic crisis in the country for the spike.
A latest situation report of the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs warns that pellagra cases will keep rising as hunger deepens.
“The number of reported pellagra cases has continued to increase in Zimbabwe, with 831 cases recorded from January to May 2020, doubling from 400 cases over the same period last year,” the report
“Pellagra cases are likely to increase as food insecurity in the country deepens and household income for accessing diversified diets continues to be depleted by the economic crisis.”
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) health services director Edwin Sibanda also confirmed that the city had been recording pellagra cases in recent months.
“We have been recording cases of pellagra in the city,” Sibanda told Southern Eye on Wednesday.
Statistics provided by council’s health department on Wednesday show that Bulawayo recorded 10 pellagra cases in June up from eight in May.
In March and April, the city recorded one case, respectively, February two and no case in January.
A 2020 Zimbabwe Humanitarian Response Plan launched in April indicates that seven million people in urban and rural areas are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance across Zimbabwe, compared to 5,5 million in August 2019.
A harsh economic climate characterised by the ever-increasing cost of basics and food against poor pay has further pushed long suffering Zimbabweans into desperation.
There are now calls for protests against the desperate situation slated for July 31, but authorities have threatened to unleash security services to quell the demonstrations.