“Putting a smile on a child’s face is our best reward”
Support from UK and the European Union enabled UNICEF to treat nearly 72,000 wasted children in the first half of the year in Niger
GUIDAN ROUMDJI (Maradi, Niger), 12 August 2021 - Mothers and their children suffering from wasting are lining up in the nutritional recovery center at Guidan Roumdji hospital in central Niger. They came from the surrounding villages, some of them traveled for miles to bring their children for immediate care.
"My child began to stop eating. She then had diarrhea. Her condition deteriorated quickly. That is why we came here. She already received care and is treated with therapeutic food" says Saadatou, mother of Hassana, 2 and a half years old. "Her condition has improved since then. Luckily we got here on time."
Souleymane Hamani Zada is the supervisor of the nutritional recovery center at Guidan Roumdji district hospital.
"The number of children with acute malnutrition has increased significantly. Like every year, we are entering the peak season again, coupled with the period of malaria. Many children, already suffering from wasting, arrive here with other diseases" he says.
"Fortunately, our teams have been strengthened to ensure children suffering from severe wasting with medical complications receive quality care. We are more than twenty doctors and nurses in this center who work - day and night - helping these families,” he explains.
Thanks to the support of the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) and European Union Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), the Guidan Roumdji district hospital is among the ones in the region where the human resource capacity has been strengthened.
"We now have the necessary nutritional supplies - be it ready-to-use therapeutic foods or therapeutic milk - and the staff have been trained on how to manage wasted children from the admission to their discharge," he explains. "Compared to previous years, the care system has improved significantly, and I can say that we are ready to face the peak period."
In the first semester of this year alone (January to June 2021), a total of 179,222 children suffering from severe wasting were admitted for treatment in Niger, including 20,745 with medical complications.
"Almost all of the children who have been admitted in this hospital have been able to recover. This is what makes us proud. Putting again a smile on a child’s face is our best reward," said Souleymane.
Nationally, the treatment programme continued to perform well, exceeding global standards for recovery (>75%), death (<10%) and default rates (<15%). The recovery rate was 92.2%, the death rate 0.8% and the defaulter rate 4.7%.
To address bottlenecks associated with nutrition supply chain management, UNICEF strengthened the capacity of government counterparts, trained 432 government staff on stock management and ensured increased stock capacity, as well as the provision of logistic support to Regional Directorates to support supervision and transport of supplies to health facilities countrywide.
Support from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office enabled UNICEF to treat nearly 72,000 children with severe wasting in the first semester, this represents 40% of the total number of children admitted for treatment nationwide.