18 May 2010

Tonga's Health Director says deaths of babies are taken seriously

9:23 am on 18 May 2010

The Director of Health in Tonga says cases of protein malnutrition that have contributed to the deaths and hospitalisation of babies are being taken very seriously.

A paediatrician in Tonga says two babies have died and several others have been hospitalised in the past two months, in part because they've been fed cheap substitutes such as condensed or powdered milk which lack adequate protein.

The director of health, Siale Akauola, says its very concerning

"It's very unusual, it's not unheard of, but it is definitely unusual to us at this point in time. We need to look at it very carefully from where these women are coming from and why they are doing this."

Siale Akauola says they will consider all the cases and visit the homes of the families involved to establish the reasons for them.

He says Tonga already runs breast-feeding workshops, and is proud of the free maternal health service it offers.