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Central African Republic

Therapeutic feeding centres save lives and support families in CAR

© UNICEF/2007/ Holtz
UNICEF is supporting therapeutic feeding centres and working with its partners to provide emergency nutrition to children living in the Central African Republic.

By Emily Bamford

BOSSANGOA, Central African Republic, 7 January 2008 – In a region ravaged by more than a decade of conflict, secure employment opportunities and health services in Bossangoa remain few and far between. Mari-Ange is a 23-year-old mother of two who says that since her husband left her, every day has been a struggle to make ends meet.

Mari-Ange walked more than 20 km, barefoot, to get to the new UNICEF-supported therapeutic feeding centre (TFC) located in Bossangoa. 

Before visiting the TFC, the young mother was only been able to provide her family with one small meal per day. Her youngest child, Francois, is almost a year old but looks much younger. Barely able to lift his head, he is among more than a dozen children at the centre who are suffering from acute malnutrition. 

Emergency treatment

Firmin, a single father, is visiting the TFC in Bossangoa with his newborn daughter Gracia. With no money to buy formula milk, he had been sustaining his daughter with sugar-water ever since his wife died from complications that arose during childbirth. Like many mothers here, she had to give birth at home due to the family’s financial difficulties. 

When Firmin and his daughter arrived at the TFC, the severely undernourished Gracia was immediately given emergency treatment. Over the next few days, her condition improved. The centre’s resident nurse, Madame Patricia, even found a surrogate mother for the baby who can provide her with milk on a daily basis.

However, as Firmin’s daughter grows healthy under the specialized care offered at the TFC, Firmin himself is still struggling. “His heart is broken into many pieces, he cannot talk right now,” says Madame Patricia.

Saving lives amidst poverty

Through the help of its partner, Action Contre le Faim (ACF), UNICEF has been able to provide emergency support to some of the town’s most vulnerable children. Last month alone, the centre helped more than 30 children. ACF also assists in encouraging families to make the most of their limited resources and provide their children with the most nutritious diet possible.

It is hoped that the help offered by the TFC will teach parents like Marie-Angel and Firmin about proper nutition until they gain respite from the poverty and hardship that grips their lives.



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