Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Ugandans have been encouraged to include a glass of milk in their daily diet, as another immunity boosting food that will enable them fight the COVID-19 virus.
The Uganda Veterinary Association (UVA), in a statement to mark World Milk Day which it celebrated virtually on June 1, said the fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, should include a healthy diet that has milk.
“In this COVID 19 pandemic period, it is important to have a glass of milk each day as the nutrients in milk include Vitamin A, D and protein. These can help maintain a healthy immune function and enable it to fight the COVID 19 virus,” Dr Daniel Kasibule, President of UVA said.
Kasibule explained that milk is an excellent source of proteins that are essential in body building and other more specific functions such as enzyme activity and hormonal control. He however cautioned that even after taking milk, get vaccinated, stay home, keep social distance and wear a face mask.
“Milk is wholesome containing vitamins, proteins, calcium, and phosphorus, and so it becomes the cheapest and most readily available meal to attain a variety of these nutrients,” he said.
The UVA is also advocating for government to fast track the implementation of a proposal for free milk to be provided to school especially Primary school. This to improve milk consumption and nutrition that will also improve immunity for the body to fight COVID-19.
Low Milk consumption
Milk consumption in Uganda is still below the world recommended level, according to Dairy Development Authority data.
The industry regulator’s data shows that although milk production in the country has increased from 2.08 billion litres in 2015 to about 2.5 billion in litres in 2020, consumption is still low.
A DDA data shows that per capita consumption of milk in Uganda stands at 62 litres which falls below the 200 litres recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Minister of State for Animal Industry Bright Rwamirama last year blamed this low consumption on people’s tendency to take fruit juice or soda which is readily available instead of milk that is more nutritious. Rwamirama called for the need to prioritize serving milk at events in order to boost milk consumption.
Why Milk Day?
The Uganda veterinarians said the celebrations are aimed at acknowledging the contribution of the dairy sector and highlight the milk products as a global food. The main objective behind World Milk Day is to make people aware of the importance of milk and dairy products in our lives.This year’s theme is ” focusing on sustainability in the dairy sector along with empowering the environment, nutrition and socio-economic.”
Role of dairy sector
The Uganda Veterinary Association, in their statement, said the contributions of the dairy sector to the Ugandan economy can not be under-rated.
The dairy sector contributes about 9% of the Agriculture GDP (about 3.2% of the total GDP, 45% of the livestock GDP).
“Uganda Veterinary association wishes to extend our sincere appreciation to the dairy farming sector, value addition players, the regulator of the dairy sector and all the final consumers of milk and its products.”
The UVA however called for renewed government efforts and funding to ensure threats to the dairy industry like Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) are wiped out. This will reduce wastage of milk in FMD infected Districts.
They also warned farmers. “Farmers should also observe withdrawal period of drugs before milking to reduce chemical residues in Milk,” UVA Secretary Boniface Obbo said.