Getting the right nutrition is key to a good health
Dohuk, Iraq, 30 August 2023 – Samar is an 11-month-old girl from a family originally from Sinjar district in Ninewa governorate, in Iraq. Since 2014, her family has been internally displaced to Khanke camp in Dohuk governorate, about 205 kilometers from Sinjar.
Samar, like many other children worldwide, was malnourished and weighed less than the recommended weight for her age.
When she came for a screening, health workers in the Khanke camp told her mother she suffered from moderate acute malnutrition. They then provided her with ready-to-use supplementary nutrition and called for weekly follow-ups.
"My daughter's health is not at its best, she is thin and weak" says Amera Mushaan Sleman, Samar's mother.
During the checkups and follow-up sessions and visits, health workers also provided advice and guidance to Amera about nutrition practices and other child health guidelines.
Children need proper nutrition to have a healthy body and normal brain development in their early childhood. Many infants and young children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, lack the necessary daily intake of essential nutrients for a healthy life.
After two weeks of treatment, Samar was weighed again, and her weight was 7.1 kg. The health staff at the Khanke primary healthcare center informed her parents that she now had appropriate measurements for her age, and therefore no longer required additional ready-to-use food supplements.
"Samar is now more active, has more energy, she interacts more with her surroundings; she gained the weight she needs, thanks to UNICEF," mentioned Samar's mother happily.
Today, many children do not grow well because of poor or inappropriate feeding practices, and this leads to malnutrition, weakened immunity, and increased vulnerability to illnesses, developmental delays, and death if the case is not managed properly by healthcare workers in early stages.
Focusing on early childhood nutrition
Early childhood nutrition programmes are initiatives and interventions designed to ensure that young children receive adequate and appropriate nutrition during their early years of development. These programmes aim to prevent all forms of malnutrition. UNICEF is working to improve infants' and young children's feeding practices by promoting access to nutritious and safe food for children aged 0–59 months in areas where healthy food is out of reach. UNICEF also encourages the use of multiple micronutrient powders and fortified food to improve the quality of children’s diets.
Thanks to generous funding from Germany through KfW Development Bank, UNICEF supports nutrition programmes in primary healthcare centers in Dohuk governorate, focusing on quality healthcare service delivery for Internally Displaced Persons and refugees inside the camps.
A dedicated team of health workers conducts regular newborns’ home-visits to households in humanitarian settings in order to evaluate, check, and follow up on the newborn’s health, provide infant and young children feeding counselling to the mothers, and conduct initial anthropometric measurement for growth monitoring for the children through using the Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC).
These teams follow up on the immunization status of all children under five years old and ensure that the defaulters are referred to primary healthcare centers in order to avoid outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases among IDPs and refugees.
UNICEF Health & Nutrition Strategy 2020-2030 includes collaboration with the national Government and partners to uphold children’s right to nutrition and end malnutrition in all its forms over the next decade.