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At a glance: Guinea

UNICEF and ECHO save Guinean children's lives with Plumpy’nut project

© UNICEF Guinea/2008/ Prata
This Guinean baby at the Salamani Health Center in Kankan has received life-saving treatment and a regimen of ready-to-use therapeutic food, supported by a partnership between UNICEF and ECHO.

By Fatoumata Thiam Diallo

CONAKRY, Guinea, 23 July 2008 – Mamadou Cissé is two years old, but until recently, he weighed less than a third of what children his age should weigh. Approximately 7 per cent of children under the age of five in Guinea are severely underweight.

After Mamadou’s mother heard a notice on community radio about a UNICEF-supported medical centre in Koundara that was taking underweight babies, she walked three hours to get there. “I went to see all kinds of traditional healers, but no one could cure him,” Mariama said of her desperate situation.

At the centre in Koundara, she met with Dr. Amadou Tidiane Diallo, a medical resident who is assisting villagers as part of the Plumpy’nut project – a new nutrition programme supported by UNICEF and the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO).

Dr. Diallo is among 204 university students and others who have been trained to fight malnutrition in Guinea.

Treating severely malnourished children

More than 6,500 children like Mamadou have been saved from malnutrition thanks to the Plumpy’nut project. The project’s goal is to reduce mortality in children under five by treating those who are severely malnourished in the poorest areas of Guinea.

© UNICEF Guinea/2008/ Prata
A mother and child receive a supply of Plumpy’nut, a ready-to-use therapeutic food that provides vital minerals and nutrients to children suffering from malnutrition.

Through the project, malnourished children have been identified throughout 25 prefectures in Guinea and started on a regimen of nutritional supplements and ready-to-use therapeutic foods such as Plumpy’nut.

For about four weeks during their recovery, malnourished children receive regular checkups, while their mothers receive advice on nutrition and vaccination.

National protocol on nutrition

Today, the price of rice and other staples makes them difficult to afford for much of the population of Guinea.

In 2007, UNICEF and other partners conducted a survey on the nutritional status of children in Guinea. Because of this data, a national protocol on nutrition was established. Nearly 300 officials, including 20 medical students, received the protocol along with other updated information on treating malnutrition.

After five weeks of treatment through the Plumpy’nut project, little Mamadou had gained nearly 4 kg. His appetite had returned such that he was demanding even more food. His mother was delighted.

With sufficient funding, UNICEF estimates that another 50,000 more children could be saved from the effects of malnutrition through this initiative.



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