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Burundi, 26 October 2010: Mobilizing local communities to eradicate severe acute malnutrition

"Ignorance, a disease that can cause diseases"

KIRUNDO, Burundi, 26 October 2010 - It is a cloudy morning and six-year old Deo is standing outside alone not saying much. He is too busy eating and enjoying his plumpy nut.

Deo is one of 14 children admitted to the Nutrition Stabilization Center at the central Hospital in Kirundo Province – supported by UNICEF, WFP and International Medical Corporation (IMC).

Today Deo is going home. After undergoing ten days of treatment for severe acute malnutrition, his condition has stabilized. He will now be transferred to an out-patient programme, where he can complete his nutritional treatment at home. His mother, Jacqueline, cannot stop smiling as she expresses her gratitude to the health workers at the center for taking good care of her son.

“When I brought my child here ten days ago, his entire body was swollen and I had lost all hope that he would recover," said Jacqueline. "I had travelled to several health facilities in my commune seeking help, but I was not successful until I heard about this center.”

Two days after her son was admitted at the center, Jacqueline noticed the difference. “When I saw my child, I saw a glimpse of hope – his swelling was going down slowly.”

Dr. Philibert Shingiro, Director of Kirundo Hospital, explained that a major cause of severe acute malnutrition is household food insecurity due to increased drought in the region, which is exacerbated by climate change. However, Dr. Shingiro noted that there is a strong need to continue educating caregivers on how to take care of their children and what to feed them in order to avoid malnutrition.

“Many mothers are not aware of what is a nutritional diet. For example, many of them grow peanuts, but they do not know that they are an important local source of protein and therefore they don’t include it in their children’s diets,” added Dr. Shingiro.

The Nutrition Stabilization Center in Kirundo manages cases of severe acute malnutrition. UNICEF provides the center with therapeutic milk, plumpy nut and systematic medicines as well as strengthening technical capacity of health staff, WFP supports the caregivers with food and IMC provides technical support on the ground. Once the children are in stable condition they are transferred to the out-patient programmes in their respective communes. 

As they were leaving the center on their way home, Jacqueline said that she is confident her son will grow into a healthy boy.

“The health workers gave me some good advice on how to take care of my son and what to feed him so that he can remain healthy and get stronger. I will do my best to follow their advice.”



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