Guinea: the weight of the crisis on vulnerable children
Conakry, Guinea, 29 February 2010 - Thursday, a day of consultations at the therapeutic nutrition Unit of the Ratoma Health Community Center , a working-class district in Conakry , the Guinean capital.
Right in the middle of the crowd, a mother is breastfeeding a child at each breast: they are her twins, a boy and a girl.
Knowing in order to save
"My child was just losing weight, narrates the mother, Aminata. I didn’t know what to do".
Kiera shows the growth curve of the little girl getting back again on the increase, finally.
Fatoumata, twelve months old now, is weighing 4kg 900. If she’s sickly again, with a good medical follow-up, she could soon get to walking, just like children of her age.
In Guinea, 40% of the children are suffering from chronic malnutrition and 26% from weight deficiency.
The political crisis, coupled up with the price shoot-up of food commodities and the depreciation of the local currency, has brought about a considerable deterioration in the purchasing power of the population, over half of which live with less than a dollar per day.
Maintaining the health of children
With the support of UNICEF and WHO, a vast campaign was launched in 2009 for over two million children under the age of five: administration of vitamin A, worm disinfectants, distribution of dipped mosquito-nets, plus vaccination against measles and polio.
UNICEF supports the health authorities in their fight against malnutrition and the care of cases. Nearly two hundred social workers have been trained and the Ministry of Health has adopted a new protocol in the care of severe acute malnutrition, thus enabling a better prevention and a better care of cases.
By Michèle Akan Badarou