Malnutrition: from red to green
With support from the World Bank, UNICEF is fighting malnutrition and improving food security in the provinces of Kasaï and Kasaï-Central.
If 19-month-old Boniface's arm circumference is now in the green, this was not the case just a few weeks ago. "When I became pregnant when Boniface was 7 months old, his health began to deteriorate," recalls Ngalula, who had no idea of the seriousness of the situation. "I thought my son was just being jealous because of my new pregnancy", admits the young mother.
UNICEF-supported community workers encouraged Ngalula to go to the health center, as Boniface's health was worrying. "My son was vomiting, had a fever, was no longer eating and his feet were swollen," explains Ngalula. At the health center, the little boy was diagnosed as suffering from severe acute malnutrition with complications and was immediately taken into care.
Boniface was given ready-to-use therapeutic food and quickly gained weight. When the little boy began his treatment, his mother Ngalula took part in awareness-raising sessions on nutritional practices. For example, she learned how to cook porridges using locally available, low-cost products that meet her son's nutritional needs.
Boniface's arm circumference is now in the green, and his mother is confident about the future. "I want my son to grow up healthy," says Ngalula. With support from the World Bank, UNICEF is working with WFP and FAO to improve food security and fight malnutrition in five health zones in the Kasai and Kasai-Central provinces.
30-month-old Alphonsine's health has also improved considerably in recent weeks. When the community workers first examined her at home, the measuring tape showed a red value. "The community workers asked me to take her immediately to the health center," explains Alphonsine's mother Aimée.
At the UNICEF-supported health center, the medical teams confirmed the fears of the community relays: Alphonsine was suffering from severe acute malnutrition. A nutritional treatment was immediately put in place with pre-cooked flour enriched with vitamins and minerals and mixed with oil and sugar". At the end of the first week of treatment, my daughter began to regain her health," Aimée says.
Throughout her daughter's recovery, Aimée was encouraged by the community relays to adopt a balanced diet. She learned to cook porridges from local foods such as corn flour, caterpillars, peanuts, bananas and palm oil. "I am confident that my daughter will never again fall into malnutrition," says Aimée with determination.