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Outrage over Mopani worm porridge, blood samples

by Staff reporter
11 Mar 2024 at 04:55hrs | Views
SOME parents and guardians in Gwanda's Mawane district, Matebeleland South province, have expressed fear after a group of people collected blood samples from learners as part of the national school feeding programme.

One of the parents who declined to be named said they did not understand the move as there was no communication to that effect.

"The thing that worries me the most is that these people just came and took blood samples from our children without educating us on the purpose of the research. No one explained in simpler terms what it was all about? The children who participated were just being given 500 grammes of mopani worms' porridge," the parent said.

However, the Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe (MRCZ) said a parental consent form stated that the purpose was to investigate the fruitfulness of the mopani worm porridge.

"You are being asked to allow your child to participate in a feeding trial to investigate the effectiveness of edible insect-based porridge and improve the micro-nutrient and nutritional status of children aged between 7 and 13 years in Gwanda, Zimbabwe," the text on the form read.

It could not be established whether parents had signed the consent form. According to MRCZ, about 180 children aged between 7 and 11 years will participate in the study.

"If you decide to allow your child to participate, the child will be receiving millet instant porridge supplement for 6 months. There will be taking of body measurements as well as blood samples at the start and at the end of the 6 months period," MRCZ said.

"Blood samples will be taken to determine the level of nutrients (proteins, lipids and mineral micronutrients including iron, zinc) in the body. The research is of minimal to no risk. Slight discomfort may be encountered on the insertion of the needle on blood collection, which causes a pinch. In rare cases, taking blood samples can lead to a slight reddening of the skin, minor bruising or inflammation. Nurses will carry out the specialised procedures to minimise any risk."

University of Zimbabwe medical doctor, Prosper Chopera, said the programme was being spearheaded by the government through the Health and Child Care ministry.

"The research was approved by the Ministry of Health. The children were also tested for anaemia but none of them had," Chopera said.

Source - newsday