Nutritionist Braimah Farouk says good food can stop the cycle of sickness in poor children in Ghana
UNICEF details the picture of men and women in Ghana who work for children’s survival. Here, nutritionist Braimah Farouk tells his story.
By Madeleine Logan
Yendi, GHANA, 2 May 2013 - When Braimah Farouk was working as a nurse, he spotted a cycle of sickness in poor families where the children did not eat the right foods. Good nutrition is key for healthy children, he says. Braimah is now a nutritionist in Yendi. In 2012, he introduced to Yendi the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition program, supported by UNICEF and CIDA. The program treated 190 children with acute malnutrition in 2012, more than 90 per cent of whom were cured.
"I was working as a nurse and I saw that the same children were getting sick again and again. I hardly ever treated a well-fed child. My patients were all from poor families, who didn’t have enough food. They would come, we would treat them and they would go. They would come back again, be treated and go. There was a cycle of sickness.
"There was something that wasn’t right. I got to know that if a child is not well nourished, they are vulnerable to all kinds of sickness. Good nutrition is key for healthy children. I decided to focus more on prevention rather than treatment, and went to university to study nutrition. I am now the nutrition officer in Yendi. In 2012, I started up the UNICEF-supported Community Management of Acute Malnutrition program. Health volunteers were taught to identify malnourished children in the community and refer them to the clinic. Community Health Nurses also went on outreach. We treated 190 children in 2012. Our cure rate was over 90 per cent.
"When a child is severely malnourished, everything breaks down. Their skin starts peeling off, they get infections, they swell up. We treat them with therapeutic food. Within a short period of time, the child transforms.
"The mothers I see would like to take proper care of their children, but they don’t have the means. These women often struggle on their own right from pregnancy – without support from their husbands. Illiteracy and poverty are very big challenges. It’s going to take time to change.
"I have pictures on my office wall of children before and after they are treated with Plumpy’Nut – a soft peanut paste used to treat malnutrition. They tell the story better than I can. I look at these children and I feel satisfied I’ve done something".