Angola, 16 June 2012: Despite the difficulties, children have been saved from malnutrition
HUAMBO, Angola, 16 June 2012 – Angolan health workers are being trained on how to treat children in order to reduce the risks of illness and death by severe malnutrition.
The series of capacity building initiated in Huambo, one of Angola’s provinces with highest cases of children affected by malnutrition, from 5 – 9 June 2012, is part of a national nutrition strategy implemented by the Ministry of Health, in close collaboration with UNICEF and WHO.
The trainings are designed to expand the knowledge and develop skills for integrated management and quality treatment of malnutrition in Angola. Due to low rainfall in 2011 and 2012, drought is currently affecting around ten coastal and central highland provinces of Angola.
Agricultural production has dramatically decreased and increasing water shortages have been reported.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, it is estimated that there is a decrease of 400,000 ton in the agricultural production.
As a consequence, almost 400,000 families are considered to be vulnerable to food insecurity because of the drought, which ultimately has a negative impact on children’s nutritional status.
Incidence of acute malnutrition of under-five children has risen, leading to an increase of admissions of severely malnourished children in the Therapeutic Feeding Centers, in those provinces, but particularly in Huambo, Bié and Kwanza Sul.
“The trained health workers can immediately apply the newly acquired knowledge on malnutrition treatment, as well as provide support for prevention and treatment at community level. This will avoid that a large number of children be hospitalized in the Therapeutic Feeding Centers”- said Dr. Futi Tati, Chief of Nutrition Department in the Ministry of Health.
The Government of Angola, with the support of its partners, is responding to the increase in severe acute malnutrition by providing therapeutic milk, plumpynut and drugs, such as antibiotics to treat opportunistic illness.
A malnourished child admitted to a Therapeutic Feeding Center has strong chances of healing within four to six weeks when the treatment protocol for handling cases of malnutrition is applied correctly.
To this end, the stock of therapeutic supplements should always be available at health facilities in the country. “Malnutrition continues to be a health problem affecting our population. We have difficulties to acquire therapeutic supplements at local level. For this reason, we would like to suggest that they are included on the list of essential drugs provided by the Ministry of Health” – said Dr. Welema Cipriano da Fonseca, Director of Huambo Regional Hospital.
Many children have been saved, sometimes in difficult circumstances. “The caregivers that I have met are motivated and the bulk of the work is being done. At this point, there is a need to improve the management of therapeutic supplies, as well as the development of an outreach strategy to prevent, screen and treat cases of malnutrition at community level” – advised Katrien Ghoos, UNICEF Regional Advisor for Nutrition Emergencies for Eastern and Southern Africa.
According to Dr. Futi, the Government of Angola intends to establish more Therapeutic Feeding Centers in the country, as well as promote a specific screening and treatment programme for malnutrition at community level.
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