Therapeutic Feeding Centers: lifeline for Children in Yemen Suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition
Integrated nutrition services were provided to over 415,000 children aged 6-59 months and more than 178,000 children with severe acute malnutrition were admitted for treatment
There are many causes of malnutrition. The primary driver is poverty, but one must also consider various parameters: the family’s lack of awareness of the appropriate diet for a young child; the amount of milk available; the capacity to recognize the signs of malnutrition; displacement that makes following up challenging; and other family issues. There are many causes of malnutrition. The primary driver is poverty, but one must also consider various parameters: the family’s lack of awareness of the appropriate diet for a young child; the amount of milk available; the capacity to recognize the signs of malnutrition; displacement that makes following up challenging; and other family issues.
Malnutrition has long been a challenge in Yemen and has deteriorated during the last seven years of conflict. UNICEF supports 34 therapeutic feeding centers (TFC) in Yemen financially and with supplies and training. In addition, thanks to the European Union generous contributions, UNICEF gives families of malnourished children vouchers covering transportation costs. Throughout 2021, integrated nutrition services were provided to over 415,000 children aged 6-59 months and more than 178,000 children with severe acute malnutrition were admitted for treatment.
From Al Hudaydah to the Alqutae Center
Enshrah Mohammed Saeed is a mother of four, including seven-month-old Rajwa, who suffers from multiple health issues. “My baby was losing weight”, Enshrah says, which drove her to seek medical advice.
“Since she was born seven months ago, my daughter has been hospitalized at Al-Thawrah Hospital, in Al Hudaydah, as she had lung problems.” Eshrah has gone from one health facility to another, hoping that her daughter would get diagnosed and treated. Until she was told Rajwa suffers from malnutrition.
“The doctor told me to feed her every two hours and to follow his instructions”, she explains. “She’s gained 2 kgs now. I see a huge difference in her. She used to pass out before I could breastfeed her. Now, she’s getting much better and a glow is showing on her face”, she adds with an air of relief.
A Plan for Ongoing Therapy
Camellia Yahya Al-Sagheer Suwaid, a nurse at the TFC in Alqutae Center, took care of Rajwa when she arrived.
“Rajwa was admitted to Alqutae Center, where she received treatment and suffered no further complications. Her condition stabilized, and she regained her weight with good nutrition and milk”, she explains. “Rajwa still needs to stay in care for another two days, though”, she adds.
The Alqutae TFC receives 70 to 80 cases of children suffering from malnutrition every month. Last August, they received 130 cases.
“The TFC is important to reduce the number of malnutrition cases in the community”, explains nurse Camellia. Ninety-nine per cent of the cases the center receives are children with severe acute malnutrition, the most dangerous form of malnutrition. Without urgent treatment, children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) are at risk of dying.
“We have a treatment plan and a medication plan. The medication plan consists of medicines that are based on the complications”, she adds. Generally, the treatment plan provides therapeutic milk (F75) milk until the child’s condition stabilizes. After that, therapeutic milk (F100) is given to the child until he or she returns to a healthy weight.
Today in Yemen, 2.2 million children under five years old suffer from malnutrition, and half a million of them suffer from severe acute malnutrition. Therapeutic Feeding Centers and their dedicated staff are essential to UNICEF’s response to the malnutrition crisis in the country.
“I feel so happy and proud of my efforts and success when the child comes out of the TFC in a better shape and his family is satisfied with their improvement”, says Camellia with a big smile. “I hope that more awareness campaigns will be made to the community about malnutrition, and my wish for the future is that malnutrition will be completely eradicated and that all children will recover and be healthy”, she concludes.