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Mozambique, 30 March 2017: Saving lives of children with malnutrition

Since the beginning of the year 3,630 children have been treated for severe acute malnutrition in Mozambique, 654 in Tete province.

© UNICEF Mozambique/2017/Solimeo

 
CHANGARA, Mozambique – 20-month-old Amilton Evaristo Pacate Andissene has just been discharged from the Changara Health Centre in Tete Province, Mozambique, where he was one of six children treated for severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

Amilton was diagnosed with malnutrition after a health worker noticed his condition while conducting a demonstration in his community about how to prepare local products to ensure a healthy and nutritious diet. “One health worker noticed that my child’s body was swollen,” said 35-year-old Maria José. After measuring his arm with the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) kit – a method of screening children for malnutrition – the health worker referred Amilton to the Mazoe Health Centre. From there he was transferred to the Changara Health Centre, where he was hospitalized for two weeks and treated with therapeutic milk.

Currently, the Changara Health Centre is treating 60 children under five for malnutrition. Since the beginning of the year 3,630 children have been treated for SAM in Mozambique, 654 in Tete province. Like many people in the province, Amilton’s family was deeply affected by the very low harvest as a result of an El Niño induced drought.

© UNICEF Mozambique/2017/Simango
“One health worker noticed that my child’s body was swollen,” said 35-year-old Maria José, mother of 20-month-old Amilton, who has just been treated for severe acute malnutrition.

A joint effort to respond to the drought

The Government of Mozambique is responding to the drought emergency with the support of the Department for International Development (DFID) and UNICEF. Nutrition supplements for children such as therapeutic milk and Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) are being distributed throughout eight of the most vulnerable districts in Tete Province.

Just two weeks after being hospitalized, Amilton is back home. He will continue the treatment and will return to the Health Centre for check-ups until he is fully recovered. Iracema Goncalvez, a nutritionist in Changara District says, “It is such a great satisfaction for us, as health workers, when a patient, especially a child, is discharged because they are better.”
 

Reaching remote areas with services and information

In communities that are far from health posts, Nutrition Mobile Brigades identify and treat, at community level, cases of children affected by Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) and SAM without medical complications. Health workers working in mobile units refer children who have SAM with medical complications to the nearest inpatient facility center.

Through the Institute of Social Communication (ICS), communities are informed about how to identify acute malnutrition and promote hygiene practices through short films and debate sessions. “For every movie, we have an average of 500 people attending, it is a real interactive event for the whole community,” said Olinda Escondio, Chief of the ICS Production and Social Mobilization Department in Tete.

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