A million different ways to ensure a child grows up healthily by acting from the first thousand days
Fight against chronic malnutrition in Madagascar, more than 290,000 pregnant women and 220,000 newborns have received adequate nutrition and health services since 2017, thanks to the partnership between UNICEF and Takeda pharmaceutical Limited Company.
"Eating varied and diversified foods is one of the key elements ensuring the child grows up healthily", says Séraphine while presenting the cards used to raise mothers’ awareness of good nutrition practices.
Séraphine is a community agent in the village of Tsaramainandro, in the north-east of Madagascar. Every month, she brings mothers together with their children to the community nutrition site in the village. She then continues with weighing and measuring in order to better monitor the nutritional status of these young children.
Exclusive breastfeeding up to the age of sixth month and also the extension of breastfeeding until the child is two years old are among the recommendations she made during these half-day sessions.
Mothers are attentive when she gives the various advice concerning the health and nutrition of mothers, infants and young children. “I encourage the community to visit the health centres often because we can receive the best services in the health structures,” she says.
Séraphine continues the session with a culinary demonstration under the watchful eye of the mothers who will put the advice into practice once they arrive home.
On that day, yam mixed with sesame and other ingredients are on the menu. These are nutritious foods that are readily available in the region.
At the end of the session, everyone is happy to share the meal with smiles after a few hours of waiting.
In Madagascar, 42% of children under five suffer from stunting, also known as chronic malnutrition. This is due to poor feeding practices of mothers, infants and young children.
However, a child’s development depends not only on food but also on attendance at health centres. In Mahambo, two hours from the community nutrition site, many women came to monitor their health and that of their children.
Thanks to the partnership between UNICEF and partners such as Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, these health agents have received training that enables them to provide quality services at the health centre.
The information, education and communication session ahead of the various services.
Augustine, a nurse, performing prenatal consultations on a pregnant woman. According to her, “Mothers should come regularly during pregnancy, childbirth, and also after childbirth to ensure that the mother and baby are well.”
The Sexually Transmitted Infections Screening Service is also available at this health centre. This is to detect the diseases early and to allow health agents to prescribe adequate treatment.
Finally, vaccination and micronutrients remain essential to ensure children’s health.
UNICEF and its partners continue to support health and nutrition programmes to save children’s lives. However, the commitment of parents is also essential because fighting malnutrition and ensuring the good development of children is everyone’s business.