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Nutrition project leads children from sickness to health

© Shushilan
Abdullah (1 year 5 month) was detected with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) when he was five-month-old but made a recovery with the help of UNICEF supported interventions.

14 August, 2012, Barguna, Bangladesh: Abdullah, was detected with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) when he was five-month-old. His mother Salma was affected by acute dysentery. She became very weak and could not take enough food due to loss of appetite. So, Abdulla did not get enough breast milk from his mother and became malnourished.

Dulal, Abdullah’s father, is a day-labourer in a brickfield in his locality though his ancestral professional was fishing, while his mother Salma is a housewife.

Dulal, the lone bread-earner of his family earns Taka 6,500 (around 80 US$) in a month. He purchases food and other family necessities with his income. It was a challenge for him to support his two children and wife with his meagre income.

The family takes three meals daily. In breakfast, they eat rice and vegetables like potatoes, ladies finger; during lunch they eat rice, fish and lentil soup; and during dinner, they make do with the remainder of the lunch items. They have meat once a month or once every two months. Sometimes in between two meals, they take light snacks like puffed rice (muri).

Abdulla is the youngest child and he has a seven-year-old sister named Amena. She is a student of Class-II. Amena is a healthy girl; she loves her brother very much and plays with him.

Rescued from malnourishment
At such a time, in September 2011, Community Nutrition Worker (CNW) Halima Begum came to visit the house. Abdullah was now over six-month-old. Halima collected all information including measurement of Mid Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) and immediately enlisted him for treatment. She advised Abdullah’s mother Salma to attend the Outreach Therapeutic Centre (OTC), where Abdullah was admitted immediately.

Halima briefed Salma and started to provide wheat-soya blend (WSB) as per the protocol. Apart from attending the OTC, Abdullah’s mother started participating in courtyard meeting and counseling sessions. Salma said, “From the very beginning I followed the rules. I never forget to cook WSB and feed my son on time.  So, Abdullah was gradually recovering”.

As Salma started attending courtyard sessions, where she received the required knowledge on food and nutrition, breast feeding, anemia prevention and personal hygiene, which greatly helped in the recovery process of Abdullah.

Abdullah’s grandmother said, “I was surprised to observe the recovery process. I never knew that small intake of food (WSB) could bring such positive changes to a child’s life. I’m happy to see my grandson healthy now.”

© Shushilan
Abdullah wtih his mother, Salma, who is very happy to have her son healthy again.

Abdullah is now growing up day by day: playing, sleeping, and eating adequately. Observing the happy face of their child, his parents are very happy. Witnessing the recovery of Abdullah, the neighbors are also impressed with the programme and it is held in high esteem within the community.

UN join hands to tackle malnutrition
The early detection of malnutrition and providing necessary therapeutic intervention to Abdullah and many other kids like him was possible due to the joint WFP, UNICEF and FAO initiative under the Millennium Development Goal Fund programme that aims to achieve improved food and nutrition security for vulnerable children and their caregivers. 

This joint UN programme contributes in the reduction of acute malnutrition, underweight prevalence and micronutrient deficiency and anemia among children 0-59 months and acute malnutrition in pregnant and lactating women. It helps to decrease the proportion of the population that is food insecure, i.e. those with inadequate calorie and nutrient intake.

Though providing food rations like fortified blended food, high-energy biscuits, therapeutic food etc., this Spanish government-supported programme “Protecting and Promoting Food Security and Nutrition for Families and Children in Bangladesh”, is working to serve 1500 severe acute malnourished children, 4500 moderate acute malnourished children, 1000 pregnant and lactating women in six unions of three upazilas of Barisal district.   

Food security through homestead gardening
Salma, Abdullah’s mother, now takes care of her children, does cooking and other household chores. She also has a vegetables garden in front of her house. During winter, she produced different kinds of vegetables with the support and training of Millennium Development Goal Fund programme.

Providing food security through agriculture, homestead food production and nutrition training are also some of the key activities of the programme which aims to reach 5,000 households in the programme area.

One such beneficiary, Salma said, “We ate a lot of vegetables and also sold some in the nearby market. Fresh vegetables fulfilled the nutritional needs of our children as well as other family members. But earlier, we left this small part of the land uncultivated, as we did not realize the nutritional needs of the family”.

Abdullah’s family also received silo, seeds, fertiliser and agricultural instruments, which are coming to great use in cultivating their vegetable garden.



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