Timely treatment helps child recover from severe malnutrition
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Before Thadar Shin Thant was born in 2020, her parents had well-paying jobs at a luxury hotel in Yangon. When Zar Chi Khaing found out she was expecting the couple’s first child, her only worry, initially, was about exposing her unborn baby to the COVID-19 virus.
However, shortly afterwards, the hotel was forced to close as measures were put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. Zar Chi Khaing’s concerns grew, as she and her husband were both left without jobs. The couple had to return to her husband’s home village of Sat Kwin, in the Ayarwaddy Region, and move in with her parents-in-law.
They had hoped to return to Yangon after the baby was born and once businesses reopened. However, the military takeover in February 2021 made it impossible for them to return to their former life.
“My husband now helps his parents with the family’s pig farming, paddy threshing and other farm work,” said Zar Chi Khaing. “We just make enough to survive. No extra at all.”
Back in January 2022, Zar Chi Khaing heard from other mothers in her village about the Nourish Delta programme, a UNICEF and World Vision supported project that aims to prevent and treat malnutrition among women and children. She decided to take her daughter, Thadar Shin Thant, to the programme because she felt her little girl was too thin. “After I stopped breastfeeding her, my daughter didn’t seem to eat very much,” Zar Chi Khaing said.
The team from World Vision assessed Thadar Shin Thant and found that she had severe acute malnutrition.
“I was relieved that we came to the programme just in time,” said Zar Chi Khaing.
The programme provided nutrition counselling to Zar Chi Khaing and trained her how to prepare a "four-star meal" that includes vegetables, fish, beans, and meat and meets all the nutrition targets using readily available foods.
“I also received red packets of peanut butter (ready-to-use therapeutic food) for my baby, and had a chance to talk and learn from other more experienced mothers,” said Zar Chi Khaing.
She has also been given the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) measuring tape to keep track of her daughter’s progress at home. “The team visits us every month to see how we’re getting on.”
With support from the Japan Committee for UNICEF, children and mothers in Zar Chi Khaing’s village are benefiting from the nutrition programme, which includes education, infant growth monitoring and follow-up, counselling, supplementary foods and micronutrient tablets, and ready-to-use therapeutic foods for children with acute malnutrition.
“Although my daughter’s weight has not completely moved into the ‘green’ zone, she is improving and I’m happy that we have the counselling and regular check-ups. There is no doubt that my daughter eats better now.”