Most fake goods are dangerous
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THE National Assembly was told a few days ago that the Fair Competition Commission (FCC) confiscated fake and sub-standard goods worth 18.67bn/- last calendar year.

The confiscation of substandard and fake goods helped save the lives of hundreds of people who would have consumed or made use of the products.

The Deputy Minister for Water and Irrigation, Eng. Isack Kamwelwe, said the noble effort continues. He added that Tanzania Bureau of Standars also confiscated a total of 84,000 substandard iron sheets, 200 cartons of spirits packed in sachets.

In the same period at least 200 cartons containing flags of different nations were returned to their original countries. A few months ago there was a prevalence of fake juice in local hotels, shops and other outlets and this was bad news to Tanzanians who have their hearts close to children.

The product is mostly consumed by children and is their favourite. Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) destroyed seven tonnes of U-fresh juice worth 10m/- on the grounds that it was substandard and dangerous to health.

The bureau also ordered that any remaining stocks of the drink be withdrawn from the market. A Chinese company, which produces the juice has been closed for failure to observe standards of hygiene.

The company has also been blamed for using super sugar which is not certified for production of juices and has negative impact on children’s health. The samples of the juic es produced by the company and those in the market were tested by TBS only to find that they have bacteria which can cause various diseases.

Now, this is a diabolical phenomenon. But this is not the only affront factories have directed at children. Only recently the TBS came up in arms against production of a variety of table salts for human consumption which are not iodized.

An accusing finger has, particularly been pointed at sea salt plants in Tanga region. It is incredible that salt producers, who are fully aware of the health hazards posed by consumption of iodine deficient salt, should do this.

Everyone should be aware that it is the iodine in iodized salt that helps the body to produce thyroid hormone. This hormone is critical for the development of infants’ brain development.

Yes, another assault on children! But this is not the only problem. Worldwide, the most common cause for goitre is iodine deficiency, usually seen in countries that do not use iodized salt.

So, the main symptom of a goitre is swelling of a gland in the neck. It is a nasty lump that develops in the throat. This ugly lump moves up and down when the victim swallows.

Tanzania does not have many such patients but the problem is prevalent. It is unthinkable that the nation has in its midst unscrupulous business people who produce and sell iodine deficient salt that is likely to trigger goitre problems.

The bureau of standards has destroyed some of the offensive salt but some stocks are still on sale. In Tanzania most parents, including the manufacturers of the juices and salts that are dangerous to the health of other people’s children, child rearing is a simple task that is managed by all sorts of parents - the rich and the poor.

Even beggars, and other socially disadvantaged citizens, raise children. But there are internationally accepted standards that should be followed if child rearing is to be rated as acceptable.

Standards of feeding, medication, sanitation and grooming come at the top. Exclusive Breast-feeding helps protect babies from common illnesses and ensures good physical and mental growth and development.

A child who is given only breast-milk for about the first six months usually grows very well during this time. Unfortunately, not many parents know this. Some of these ignorant parents offer harmful juices to their infants.

Infants who are not breast-fed may not learn as easily as breast-fed ones. Parents can determine the health status of the children through a number of clinical procedures. Weighing is one of them.

Weighing is a key aspect that helps gauge a child’s health. Regular weight gain is the most important sign that a child is growing and developing well. If a child does not gain weight for two months, he may need larger servings or more nutritious food or may be sick.

Parents need to act quickly to discover the cause of the problem. A child should be weighed during every visit to a health centre. According to pediatricians, each young child should have a growth chart.

The child’s weight should be marked with a dot on the growth chart each time he is weighed, and the dots should be connected after each weighing. This will produce a line that shows how well the child is growing.

If the line goes up, the child is doing well. A line that stays flat or goes down indicates cause for concern. In the early months exclusive breastfeeding protects against diarrhoea and other infections.

By about six months, a child needs other types of foods and drinks. Breastfeeding should continue into the second year. If an infant less than six months of age is not gaining weight, he may need to breast-feed more frequently.

I must emphasize here that a breast-fed infant under six months of age needs no other fluids -- not even water. A breast-fed infant who is not gaining weight may be ill, or may not be getting enough breast-milk.

A health worker can check the infant’s health and counsel the mother on how to increase the infant’s intake of breast-milk. Starting at about six months of age, infants need other foods, called complementary foods, in addition to its mother’s breast-milk.

The child’s diet should include peeled, cooked and mashed vegetables, grains, pulses, some oil, as well as fish, eggs, chicken, meat or dairy products to provide vitamins and minerals.

The greater the variety of foods the better. Babies aged between six and 12 months should be breast-fed frequently and before being given other foods. After six months of age, the risk of infection increases as the child begins to eat other foods and starts to crawl.

Both the child’s hands and his food should be kept clean. Children aged 12 to 24 months should continue to breast-feed after meals and whenever they wish. Some Maasai mothers breast-feed for up to five years.

This practice goes a bit far. But it is not condemnable. A child food must be kept impeccably clean. If a child eats bad food from time to time he will often be ill. Food that is eaten raw must be washed or boiled slightly.

Cooked food must be eaten without delay. Leftovers of food should be reheated thoroughly. Drinking water should come from a safe source and should be kept clean. Clean drinking water can be obtained from a regularly maintained, controlled and chlorinated piped supply.

It can also be obtained from a borehole or a protected spring well. If water is drawn from ponds, streams, springs, or tanks, it can be made much safer by boiling. Even the River Ruvu water consumed in Dar es Salaam and the borehole water consumed in Dodma, needs boiling.

Some people think purified and chlorinated water is absolutely safe. It is not. All faeces, including those of the child, should be discarded in a la trine or toilet or even buried.

If this is not done the child may frequently get worms and other problems. A health worker must deworm a child immediately. Poor nutrition in the first two years can slow a child’s physical and mental development for the rest of his life.

In order to grow and stay healthy, young children need a variety of nutritious foods. Children’s energy and bodybuilding needs are great. So it is important that children eat frequently to provide for all their needs.

Foods such as mashed vegetables, a little chopped or minced meat, eggs or fish should be added to the child’s food as often as possible. A small amount of vitamin enriched oil may be added.

If meals are served in a common dish, younger children may not get enough food. Young children should have their own plate of food to ensure they can eat to their fill and so that the parent can see how much they have eaten.

Young children may need encouragement to eat and may need help in handling food or utensils. A child with a disability may need extra help when eating or drinking. Children aged six months or older need to get vitamin A from other foods or supplements.

Vitamin A can be found in liver, eggs, dairy products, fatty fish liver oil, ripe mangoes and papaws, yellow sweet potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables and carrots. Children who do not have access to these foods are at risk of night blindness.

If a child has difficulty seeing in the early evening and at night, more vitamin A is probably needed. The child should be taken to a health worker for a vitamin A capsule. Paediatricians say that diarrhoea and measles deplete vitamin A from the child’s body.

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