A school Principal’s quick-action to a visibly-worrying situation of nutrition deficiency reports in the media resulted in early detection of vitamin deficient cases from Langthel Lower Secondary School (LLSS) in Trongsa.
The LLSS Principal, Kuenga Loday who kept tab through media reports about nutrition deficiency cases at Orong and Lhuentse schools, asked the health and mess in-charge to check the students for similar symptoms.
“At first nobody turned up even after so much of pressure from the school authority,” the principal Kuenga Loday said.
After a little nudge on the school’s part and an elaboration on the risks of nutrition deficiency, the students showed for the check-up.
Consequent to the check-up, old cases previously symptomatic of swollen legs and referred to Trongsa hospital also made the list once again but for vitamin deficiency this time.
Two students who are siblings were referred to Trongsa hospital in the year 2010 due to swollen limbs and a girl with similar symptoms was referred to the hospital last year.
“I don’t why these students kept silent about their diseases,” the principal said.
The school immediately sent diagnosed students to nearby Basic Health Unit (BHU) and reported the case to Trongsa hospital.
Tashi Wangchuk, the Dzongkhag Medical Officer (DMO) of Trongsa hospital said the students underwent all the clinical assessments and tests.
The DMO said results of the blood test, revealed low levels of protein content in four students and probable vitamin deficiency. The cases were immediately informed to Ministry of Health (MoH).
The health officials delivered talks on diet and nutrition to the students and later all the students underwent screening for deficiency symptoms and found 12 more students with the same problem.
The investigation team confirmed vitamin deficiency in all the cases.
The DMO said the situation is presently under control.
“Our team caught on time unlike Orong,” said the DMO.
The school mess provide students with dal (pulses) and chana (chick pea) on a daily basis, potatoes once in a week, meat in a month and bathup and roti once in two months, spinach two times a week due to unavailability with a quotation system and cabbages, beans and so on.
The health team will send report on school’s mess menu of 2012 to diet program of Department of Public Health, MoH for analysis and suggestions.
“We already started issuing vitamin therapy as of now,” said a health official.
The health team will follow-up on affected students for any new symptoms, cases and their overall progress with weekly to the school.
Bhutan spends 3.7% of its GDP on health expenditure and World Bank Experts already pointed out that its performance in nutrition was “way below average” like any other South Asian countries.
Also, economic growth in South Asia has not translated into improved nutritional status; with underweight, wasting and low birth weight almost twice as high as in Africa.
The school has about 330 students, out of which 138 stay as boarder with 78 girls and 60 boys.
Nutritional deficiency caused the deaths of two students in Orong school last year. And later it hit Lhuentse School where eight students were diagnosed severely nutrition deficient.