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Japan contributes to the survival of children in Mali

© UNICEF Mali / 2013 / Cao

By Cindy Cao

KATI, 27 December 2013 - Assetou knows what means to be hungry. She also knows what it means to see her children suffer. Today, she can have a rest. Corion, her 3 year old son, suffers from severe acute malnutrition with complications, though the treatment he is receiving has set him on the road to recovery. With support from the Japanese government, UNICEF and its partners respond to the nutrition crisis.

She is a street vendor, while her husband is a driver. Assetou lives a quiet life with her family in the neighborhood of Samakebougou in the village of Kati, located just outside of Bamako. Like many others in Mali, Assetou’s children are at risk of malnutrition. "One day," she says, "my child was sick. I went to the closest health center. I thought he had malaria because he had no appetite and fever."

Health workers, however, diagnosed a case of malnutrition and sent Assetou to the reference health center in Kati. She arrived there two days ago with the young patient, and also her youngest child, Traore, 8 months.

"Here, I feel good" she says with a smile. "I get food three times a day." These are the words of a woman who knows what hunger is and what it means to see her children suffering. She knows now that it is possible to grant a reprieve.

"Here, my children are treated. Health workers take care of us. Corion has always been sick, since he was born.” Suffering from digestive candidiasis, Corion has legions in his mouth that prevent him from swallowing, which is why the nurse feeds him using a feeding tube. She covers his hands with bandages to prevent him from snatching it. Through the tube, Corion regularly receives therapeutic milk (F -75), that will allow him to gain weight and restore his metabolism. When he starts to gain weight, he will be in a transition phase and he will receive another type of therapeutic milk (F -100).

As part of the emergency response, the funds received from Japan helped to acquire more than 20,000 boxes of therapeutic milk and ready-to-use therapeutic food. Supplies were distributed on time to health structures across the country.

"Now I am happy and I will be happier when he will totally recover. I cannot find the right words to express my gratitude" says Assetou. Humanitarian aid from Japan helped to treat 39 000 children under 5, including nearly 1,250 children with severe acute malnutrition with complications, the same scenario as Corion.

Funds received from the Japanese government in response to the emergency helped to supervise 37 agents from health delegations and district hospitals. In addition, thanks to these funds, 155 agents from health centers were supervised according to the revised protocol for the treatment of acute malnutrition in the community. Assetou also attends education sessions in her village or in health centers. She learns the importance of a healthy diet for her and her children. Appropriate feeding practices may ensure child survival and development. If Assetou knows good hygiene and health practices, Corion and Traore will not only escape malnutrition, they can also grow up strong, healthy and intelligent.



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