Saving baby Bosba’s life
Outreach services in remote villages like Pril in Rattanakiri are saving severely malnourished children like Bosba.
In light of the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), UNICEF Cambodia reflects on the human stories behind the health services it supports. These services are saving babies like Bosba and ensuring every child in Cambodia enjoys their right to good health.
Pril village, Ratanakiri province, October 2019 - Romam Bosba, an eight-month-old baby girl, lives in the remote Pril village. Her father, Sol Khamrin, is 25 years old, and her mother Romam Pev, is 23. They are a poor, farming family from the Tampuan Ethnic minority group.
Bosba was assessed by health center staff during an integrated health outreach service in her village. Supported by UNICEF, this service offers immunization, antenatal and post-partum care, consultations, health education, and other life-saving health interventions. After screening and weighing through MUAC, Bosba was found to have severe acute malnutrition with a need for immediate treatment.
“Since Bosba did not have any medical complications, we guided her parents in the appropriate treatment for their child, including how many BP100 per day, how to create the formula and how often to feed her,” explained Ms Phen Dalis, a nutritionist at Borkham health centre. BP100 is a Ready-to-Use Therapeutic food for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition. “We told the parents when to return to the health center for a follow up. After two months of treatment the baby gained weight from four and a half kilograms to six kilograms and was cured of severe acute malnutrition,” Dalis continued.
The health center staff also explained to the parents how to feed the baby nutritious foods and how to use clean water to prevent diarrhea, a main contributor to childhood malnutrition and other illnesses. Bosba’s mother, Pev, told us, “I would like to thank the health staff who tested my daughter for her nutrition status and provided treatment to her on time. Without this support my daughter might have suffered from other dangerous diseases too.”
Malnutrition in Cambodia leads to 4,500 child deaths every year. This accounts for one third of all child deaths. With 32 per cent of children under five years stunted (too short for their age), 24 per cent underweight and 10 per cent wasted (with acute malnutrition), Cambodia’s children are at risk of premature death. Children born into impoverished families are almost three times more likely to be stunted in the first years of life than children born into wealthy families1. This disparity is triggered by a lack of nutritious food, exposure to infectious diseases and poor feeding practices for impoverished children.
Inadequate nutrition in early childhood can stand in the way of a child’s potential to fully develop. It undermines their intellectual, mental and physical growth which can lead to poor learning and limited opportunities for work throughout life. The consequences can even go beyond one generation, malnutrition in mothers is known to cause nutritional deficiencies in children.
UNICEF Cambodia is working with the Ministry of Health, the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development and other partners at a national and local level to boost services and improve a child’s ability to survive, learn and rise out of poverty.
 Secondary analysis of CDHS 2014 conducted by the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), UNICEF and Institute de recherche pour le dévelopement (IRD)