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Burkina Faso

Regional Director visits community-based child nutrition centres in Burkina Faso

© UNICEF video
At a UNICEF-supported nutrition and rehabilitation centre in Gourcy, Burkina Faso, mothers prepare and give their children therapeutic food to combat malnutrition.

By Kun Li

NEW YORK, USA, 3 August 2006 – UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Esther Guluma, is in Burkina Faso to witness firsthand community-based efforts to tackle child malnutrition.

Along with other countries in Africa’s Sahel region – including Mali, Chad, Mauritania and Niger – Burkina Faso has among the highest child mortality rates in the world. Nearly 40 per cent of its 2 million children under five suffer from malnutrition, a major cause of child mortality.

On her visit this week, Ms. Guluma visited UNICEF-supported nutrition and rehabilitation centres in Gourcy, where mothers are taught how to prepare therapeutic food – a mixture of ingredients such as millet, corn and peanuts – to feed their malnourished children.

© UNICEF video
With a malnourished child in her arms, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa Esther Guluma talks to reporters during her visit to Burkina Faso.

The centres also provide children and their mothers with immunization and malaria testing and treatment, as well as pre-natal and neo-natal care. UNICEF and its partners provide resources and train health workers for the centres.

Addressing underlying causes

“When you see the children keep on coming again and again, you do feel that the solution to malnutrition needs to be a sustainable one,” said Ms. Guluma. “To prevent the reoccurrence of malnutrition year after year, we have to look for solutions that engage more women.”

Among the solutions that will address the underlying causes of child malnutrition and mortality, she added, are poverty reduction, exclusive breastfeeding practices and improved water and sanitation.

© UNICEF video
A mother breastfeeds her child at a UNICEF-supported nutrition and rehabilitation centre in Gourcy, Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso was hit hard by the Sahel’s food crisis in 2005. To prevent the same tragedy from happening again, relief agencies are working together to increase nutrition awareness, educate mothers and monitor children’s health status.

In addition, UNICEF is training more health workers to provide child nutrition services for mothers at the community level, so that they don’t have to leave their families and travel long distances to reach feeding centres.

After departing from Burkina Faso, Ms. Guluma will continue her trip through the Sahel. Her next stop is Niger, where she will survey progress made since last year’s food crisis and seek global attention to help save more of the region's children from malnutrition.




3 August 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Kun Li reports on Regional Director for West and Central Africa Esther Guluma’s visit to Burkina Faso.
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