Replenishing child nutrition through the Mudug Mobile Clinic
Medicinal properties of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food
The Mudug Mobile Health Clinic in South Galkayo visits Deegaan internally displaced peoples (IDP) camp every Saturday in order to screen and treat children for malnourishment. The worst of the historic drought seems to be over in Somalia, but lives and livelihoods are still in recovery while climate change induced episodes of scattered floods and drought are still present.
Dr. Shamsa Abdulle is registering children at the clinic. “Correct measurement improves the lives of the children. This is a scientific detail about health based on things like the height, weight and proportions of the child’s body. This information helps the nurse to decide if the child is health, moderately malnourished or severely malnourished. The nurse then knows what care the child needs.”
When a child is brought to the Outpatient Therapeutic feeding Program (OTP) Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) clinic for the first time, the caretaker is given infant and young child feeding (IYCF) counseling. Next, the child is taken to the screening area where the height, weight and measurement with the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) are done, to see if the child has recovered or still needs treatment. If the child is malnourished, they have an appetite test, the caregiver gets a consultation, routine medicines if needed and RUTF. The child will then come back the next week for an assessment.
Nurse Fathi hands over the weekly supply of RUTF to Duniyo who has a four-year-old child who has been in the OTP for a month now, being treated for severe malnutrition. Duniyo’s son is showing great improvement after starting the OTP programme. "My son Hassan was weak when I brought him here. He is now in feeling much better. He is even playing again,” she says.
Fathi Mohamed, a nurse with the Mobile Clinic, says that “Good nutrition is fundamental for the health and wellbeing of children. I am happy when I see that RUTF has improved the nutrition status of many young children.” In the past month, the Mobile Health Clinic has been treating 69 malnourished children as outpatients. This month, 46 have recovered and have been discharged from the treatment.
“After giving IYCF counseling to the caregivers about best feeding practices in this environment, and prescribing RUTF to the malnourished children, each child is likely to recover. They will then be able to join the community in good condition,” says Burhano Bashir, an IYCF nurse.
Prevention is the best cure for malnutrition, early detection is the second best. Mobile health clinics like the one in Mudug helps catch children’s malnutrition early, so that caregivers can be given advice on how to feed their children safely, use the foods available and practice proper hygiene to prevent illness.
Dahabo came into the clinic with her mother last week to get screened for malnutrition. She was showing some small signs of being undernourished, but the nurses treated her and counseled the mother. This week, Dahabo has shown great improvement and might be finished with the programme next week.
This programme is supported by EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and will enable UNICEF and partners to deliver life-saving therapeutic food to some of Somalia’s most vulnerable children through mobile outreach teams.