Nutrition Programme success stories from the field: Zamboanga City
Stories and photos courtesy of UNICEF partner ACF
Living above the level of malnutrition
Merkan was one of the 34 children identified as severely acute malnourished during the active screening by ACF staff and City Health Office volunteers in an evacuation camp in Zamboanga City in October 2013. He looked frail and bony at that time. He was easily irritated and didn’t want to be disturbed. When Merkan was admitted to the outpatient therapeutic program (OTP) for children with severe acute malnutrition, his parents were very much concerned for his wellness. They were eager to commit to the therapeutic programme, especially his father.
Merkan's caregiver underwent a weekly series of infant and young child feeding counselling and care practice sessions. Because of his father's dedication to his son's treatment, Merkan showed gradual improvement week after week: his weight increased from 5.4 kg upon admission to 7.4 kg and his mid-upper arm circumference increased from 95 mm to 135 mm. After staying in the OTP program for 58 days, Merkan was then transferred to the supplementary feeding programme for another 3 months.
Merkan is now a happy and active kid, benefiting from good health and nourishment. Despite poor and unfavorable evacuation camp conditions, Merkan is now enjoying a life above the level of malnutrition because of his parents' love and improved child care knowledge and practices.
Scaling up CMAM: a timely initiative to build back a better Zamboanga
The Zamboanga crisis has provided an opportunity for the government, humanitarian communities, and private sector to coordinate relief efforts and emergency response to affected families and communities. Efforts from the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Shelter, Protection, Health and Nutrition sectors have been centered towards the local government's "Build Back Better Zamboanga" programme.
The Nutrition sector, through the City Health Office as the lead agency, is taking on an integral role in the emergency and early recovery response by scaling up the Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programme – from two main evacuation centers to 17 additional barangays, taking into consideration the home-based evacuees, transitory sites and evacuation centers.
Although it is a timely initiative by the City Health Office, ensuring the provision of quality services in all the additional barangays remains a challenge, due to the limited availability of trained staff, funding, supplies, and the relatively new mechanisms for supervision and technical support. Despite this, the scaled-up CMAM initiative has set the blueprint for a wider Nutrition Programme coverage. It is creating a new culture in barangays in addressing acute malnutrition and mainstreaming CMAM to the regular health nutrition program.