Reinforced management of severe malnutrition cases in Niger

European Union humanitarian aid has enabled UNICEF to make a difference and save more children’s lives

By Emmanuela Durandisse Blain & Hadiza
Hadiza Alkassoum
23 September 2021

MARADI, 18 September 2021 – Abdoulkarim, 15 months old, has just been admitted to Maradi’s nutritional rehabilitation centre (CRENI). His illness started seven days earlier with a fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Abdoulkarim is the ninth child in the family and his mother has passed away. His grandmother, Hadjara, 53 years old, had to travel almost an hour to reach the nearest health centre. 

’My home is in an area on the outskirts of town and it is difficult to access running water. Our area is isolated and not well connected’ she says. 

’It was the integrated health centre that referred us to this nutritional rehabilitation centre (CRENI). I wouldn’t have been able to get here if it wasn’t for the help of the doctor working at the health centre.’

Hadiza Alkassoum
Abdoulkarim, 15 mois, et sa grand-mère, Hadjara, 53 ans, au centre de Maradi

’Since the moment we arrived, the health workers have taken care of us. After the doctor took action and diagnosed Abdoularim, he was admitted and assigned a bed. Straight away, he received treatment with medicines, therapeutic milk and Plumpy’Nut.’

’As his guardian, I also received a blanket, a mosquito net, some soap bars and meals prepared by the hospital kitchen.’

Thanks to European Union humanitarian aid (ECHO), Maradi’s nutritional rehabilitation centre is just one of the region’s centres to benefit from human resource capacity building,  additional staff and training on techniques to improve the quality of care.

The hospital also has essential nutritional inputs at its disposal such as ready-to-use therapeutic nutrients, medicines and therapeutic milk.

UNICEF Niger/Juan Haro
Déchargement des aliments thérapeutiques au Niger

‘I've noticed that there are always nurses and doctors here with us in the room’, says Hadjara. ‘I'm very happy and pleased to see that my grandson is on his way to recovering from this disease. I don’t know what state he would be in if we hadn’t been able to access this care.’

Malnutrition is one of the main causes of infant and child mortality in Niger.  The SMART survey carried out in 2020 revealed that the prevalence of severe malnutrition in Maradi is 3.1%, a rate that grossly surpasses the WHO emergency threshold of 2%.

According to Emmanuela Durandisse Blain, responsible for overseeing the management of malnutrition within UNICEF in Niger, ’European Union humanitarian aid has enabled us to make a difference and save more children’s lives’. ‘This support has enabled us to reinforce our management of severe wasting in healthcare facilities all over the country.’

In the first half of 2021, the Niger malnutrition treatment programme led to a better survival rate among children due to preventative and treatment interventions put in place to ensure high-quality care with the minimum norms and standards for the management of malnutrition.