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South Sudan, 9 November 2015: Another chance at life

By Mercy Kolok & Julius Mori

© UNICEF/2015/South Sudan/Julius

TORIT, South Sudan, 9 November 2015 – Two year old Achan was brought to Abara Primary Health Care Center when she was severely malnourished. Achan’s body was swollen with sores all over. She was weighing only nine kilograms which is below average for a girl her age.

“When Achan fell sick, we thought that she had been bewitched. So her father and I took her to the witchdoctor for treatment but her situation only got worse,” said Achan’s mother, Kasara Oyet.

On seeing that the child was not getting better, her father abandoned her and her mother.

“I was hopeless with no one to turn to. I thought that I was going to lose her. Then I decided to try the health facility,” said her mother.

At the health center, staff quickly referred her to Torit State Hospital Stabilization center where she was diagnosed with generalized oedema, which is a condition of fluid collecting in the tissues and Kwashiorkor, a form of severe protein-energy malnutrition. Achan was immediately put on medication and enrolled in the therapeutic nutrition feeding program.

Three weeks later, Achan was hardly recognizable. The once weak and sickly girl had quickly transformed to a vibrant and healthy little girl — full of life. From the mere nine kilograms she weighed when brought to the hospital, she was now weighing 16 kilograms- almost double her initial weight. Achan could now smile, play and even pose for a photo.

“I am so happy that my child is ok now. I am so grateful to the doctors and everyone who helped my child,” said an elated Oyet. “I now know the causes of malnutrition and how to feed my child so that she does not fall sick again,” she added.

While admitted at the hospital with little Achan, her mother benefited from the health education programmes offered at the hospital where she learnt about feeding and caring for her child, use of bed nets to prevent malaria and proper hygiene practices.

On hearing the good news about Achan’s health, her father decided to visit them at the hospital. He could not believe his eyes when he saw how Achan’s health had drastically improved.

“I am so happy to see Achan healthy and well. I wasted a lot of time and money going to witchdoctors who were not able to treat my child. Now I know the best place to bring her when she is unwell is the hospital,” said Achan’s father.

Through the generous contribution from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) UNICEF is helping hundreds of thousands of children like Achan who are suffering from severe malnutrition through the provision of medication, ready-to-eat therapeutic food and milk but more needs to be done. Children in South Sudan remain in a dire and worsening malnutrition emergency because of the deteriorating food insecurity situation, the destruction of livelihoods as a result of the conflict and inaccessibility to many affected areas by humanitarian actors, as well as escalating food prices. In the worst affected areas of Greater Upper Nile, Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal, one in three children are severely malnourished. With more support, UNICEF through partners will be able to reach hundreds of thousands of children like Achan and give them another chance at life.



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