Bringing life-saving treatments to children in need

In Mali, every tenth child suffers from acute malnutrition — a rate considered serious by the World Health Organisation.

By Cindy Cao
 Anta Cisse, 40 ans, mère de 6 enfants, se rend au centre de santé de Mopti pour soigner sa plus jeune fille, Belco Diallo, âgée de 24 mois, d'une malnutrition aiguë sévère accompagnée de complications médicales.
UNICEF Mali/2017/Sokhin

03 October 2017

In Mali, every tenth child suffers from acute malnutrition — a rate considered serious by the World Health Organisation. Children who suffer from the severe form of acute malnutrition have grave muscle wasting, very low weight for their height, and are nine times more likely to die in case of disease. Insecurity, disruption of social services, limited access to water and sanitation and childhood diseases are all aggravating the situation.

 Anta avec d'autres mères
UNICEF Mali/2017/Sokhin

In Mali, the highest rates of acute malnutrition are in the crisis-hit north. But in the central region of Mopti, with insecurity on the rise, disruption of social services is also becoming a reality.

 Belco Diallo, 24 mois, est entrain de se faire dépister de la malnutrition
UNICEF Mali/2017/Sokhin

When health agents flee due to insecurity, provision of health care is limited and the provision of life-saving treatment to the most vulnerable children suffering from severe acute malnutrition is put at risk.

Anta Cisse, 40 years old, plays with her daughter Belco Diallo, 24 months, who suffers from severe acute malnutrition with complications.
UNICEF Mali/2017/Sokhin

Anta Cisse, 40 years old, a mother of 6 children, is at the health centre of Mopti to treat her youngest daughter Belco Diallo, 24 months, from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications.

Belco Diallo, 24 mois, se fait dépister de la malnutrition
UNICEF Mali/2017/Sokhin

Belco had diarrhoea, fever and she vomited. When she arrived at the center, she weighed only 4,6 kg — preciously little for a two-year-old child.

 Anta a fait un long voyage dangereux pour sauver son bébé malade et est venu au centre de santé de la ville de Mopti
UNICEF Mali/2017/Sokhin

Anta made a long hazardous journey to save her sick baby and come at the health centre in Mopti town. “I took the boat from Ouroumoudi. It was about 10 hours,” she remembers.

 Mariam Kanake, une amie d’Anta, dirigeante d’une maternité rurale à Wadiaka
UNICEF Mali/2017/Sokhin

"It’s difficult for mothers to come here because armed groups do not allow a woman to go on a motorbike with a man. The problem is that most of the time, only men can drive"

Insecurity here hinders access to health care. Anta’s friend Mariam Kanake, a women leader at a rural maternity in Wadiaka, Dialloube explains: “It’s difficult for mothers to come here because armed groups do not allow a woman to go on a motorbike with a man. The problem is that most of the time, only men can drive.”

Le Dr Ballo explique que des agents de santé qualifiés ont fui des endroits comme Ouroumadi et de nombreuses autres parties de Mopti
UNICEF Mali/2017/Sokhin

Dr Ballo explains that qualified health agents have fled places like Ouroumadi and many other parts of Mopti, meaning proper diagnosis and treatment of children like Belco can be comprised. “There is a lack of capacities in community health centres. They shouldn’t have waited two months to send Belco here. They tried to treat her with ready-to-use therapeutic food first but she had medical complications. She could have died. The normal process is to send the child here immediately after the diagnostic.”

 aliment thérapeutique prêt à l'emploi
UNICEF Mali/2017/Sokhin

Delivering ready-to-use-therapeutic food like high-energy peanut butter paste can save children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. This nutrient-rich paste requires no water for preparation or refrigeration and has a two-year shelf life, which makes it easy for families, even in the most difficult environments, to treat children at home.

Belco Diallo, 24 mois, en train de se faire dépister de la malnutrition
UNICEF Mali/2017/Sokhin

After a few days at the health centre in Mopti taking therapeutic milk, Belco is getting better. “She’ll probably stay about 6 days here and if she’s better, she will be able to come back home and get treated with ready-to-use therapeutic food,” says Dr. Ballo. “She will be able to get these for free at the community health centre. She will recover.”

UNICEF Mali Nutrition officer in Mopti Seydou Amara Dicko says: “In a context of increasing security and deterioration of health services, UNICEF needs additional funding to prevent and respond to the nutritional emergency.”

 Un responsable de la nutrition de l'UNICEF à Mopti Seydou, Amara Dicko, avec Belco et sa mère
UNICEF Mali/2017/Sokhin

“In a context of increasing security and deterioration of health services, UNICEF needs additional funding to prevent and respond to the nutritional emergency.”