UNICEF and the European Union join hands in supporting the government to treat thousands of severely malnourished children in Gambia
Gambia, 25 July 2013 – The European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) of the European Union provided funds to 7 countries in the Sahel, through the UNICEF Regional Office, to support UNICEF’s response to the nutrition crisis in the Sahel. In addition to the US$ 229,068.59 received in 2012, The Gambia received a further US$ 328,179.58 in 2013, to further enhance the national nutrition programme as well as provide support for the treatment of medical complications associated with malnutrition in children under 5.
Malnutrition is a significant contributor to child morbidity and mortality. According to the 2010 Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS), the prevalence of wasting (weight to height ratio) among children under 5 at the national level increased from 6.4 per cent in 2005 to 9.5 per cent in 2010 and stunting (chronic malnutrition) rates among children under 5 increased from 22.4 per cent to 23.4 per cent for the same period. It is estimated that 7,745 children under 5 will be inflicted with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in The Gambia in 2013. Out of the 7,745 estimated SAM cases, 5,421 are expected to be admitted for treatment and approximately 4,788 will benefit from ECHO funds.
UNICEF and the EU has a long standing relationship with National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) in implementing nutrition interventions through both regular programming and as part of the nutrition response to the emergency. UNICEF, through ECHO funds, supported NaNA in conducting the Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief Transitions (SMART) survey. As part of the emergency response, UNICEF has supported the training of health workers on the management of SAM as well as procurement of Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF). In 2012, with funds from the ECHO, UNICEF also supported NaNA to revise and update the national protocol on the Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition (IMAM) to align it with international standards. This was followed by the training of 23 national trainers. IMAM step-down training was recently completed for 150 community health workers and health facility staff in all regions. It is expected that the skills and knowledge gained will increase their capacity to assess and manage more effectively the cases of malnutrition.
With the funding from ECHO, it is estimated that 4,788 children with Severe Acute Malnutrition, representing 88% of the targeted cases nationwide, will be reached with therapeutic care and treatment of medical complication to avoid mortality. Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene will be improved in 8 nutrition centers through water treatment and provision of soap, water containers and bleach. The provision of malaria chemoprophylaxis will ensure that a total of 69,860 children between 3 months to four years in URR and CRR are protected from malaria during the peak season.
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