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UNICEF helps tackle child malnutrition in Myanmar

© UNICEF MYANMAR/2012/ Ye Lwin
Nine month old boy Phoe La Pya was admitted to the Nutrition Unit, Yangon Children’s Hospital for serious malnutrition. He recovered after receiving two weeks of intensive treatment

By Ye Lwin

Child Hospital, Yangon, Myanmar, August 17, 2012:  Tin Hla, a grandmother at 49, is pleased to see her nine month old grandson Phoe La Pyae recover from malnutrition after receiving treatment at the Nutrition Unit in the Yangon Children’s Hospital.

Two weeks ago the child was admitted to the hospital on emergency as he suffered from serious malnutrition. He wasn’t breastfed exclusively and lacked in age-appropriate complementary feeding.  

“My grandson gradually slipped into serious malnutrition. His mother returned to work when he was three months old and he no longer was exclusively breast fed,” said grandmother Tin Hla while attending to her grandson at hospital nutrition unit. 
The child’s mother had to resume her 7:00 am to 7:00 pm duty at a garment factory to help support the family living in economic hardship. It became difficult to breastfeed after working on twelve-hour job outside of home, even though she heard exclusive breastfeeding needed to continue up to six months.  She resorted to other food – some of which was not necessarily helpful for the child’s nutrition – such as inexpensive and easily available condensed milk.

Condensed milk is has no nutritional value

“Condensed milk is has no nutritional value whatsoever. It contains only sugar, no protein, vitamin and mineral, which actually does more harm than good. Some people get it wrong that condensed milk is good for children. Exclusive breast feeding is the best and the essential feed for children until six month,” said Paediatrician Dr. Ei Ei Tin, who is in-charge of the Nutrition Unit at Children’s Hospital Yangon.

Hospital Nutrition Unit offers intensive treatment and rehabilitation for moderate to acutely malnourished children. They also receive patients referred by other hospitals.

“Child malnutrition is one of the underlying causes of child mortality. We do everything to save the lives of malnourished children who come to our unit,” Dr. Ei Ei Tin said, “Our treatment is aimed at reducing deficiency in vitamins and minerals and improving the weight of malnourished children,” Dr. Ei Ei Tin said. 

The Hospital Nutrition Unit provides regular meals for the children admitted with malnutrition. The meals include rice, lentils, green beans, potatoes, boiled eggs, carrots and other vegetables; meat is given twice a week. Six times a day, the children are also given therapeutic milk F-100/F-75 provided by UNICEF and bananas two times a day as supplementary feeding.

© UNICEF MYANMAR/2012/ Ye Lwin
A nurse aid from Nutrition Unit, Yangon Child Hospital is preparing therapeutic milk F-100 provided by UNICEF for the malnourished children

UNICEF provides ready-to-use therapeutic milks

UNICEF provides ready-to-use therapeutic milks F-75, F-100 and Resomal to treat children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. They contain milk, sugar, oil, minerals and vitamins in soluble powder form in sachets.

Number of malnutrition cases usually increased in the rainy when more children become susceptible to diarrhoea-related malnutrition. 

One year old Ko Ko Aung was admitted to child hospital last month after having suffered from serious diarrhoea for three days consecutively. “He was admitted to the hospital after a serious loss of weight and energy. He could barely move his body.  I was scared thinking that he would not survive,” said his 21 years old mother Su Su.  Fortunately Ko Ko Aung did recover from diarrhoea in the Yangon Children’s Hospital then referred to Hospital Nutrition Unit in the same compound for treatment of severe acute malnutrition.
“Now he has recovered and is regaining weight, he is still being monitored. We will go home next week,” said a happy Su Su.

In 2011 the Nutrition Unit treated in Yangon Children’s Hospital treated 42 children with malnutrition and all of them have recovered. 




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