From walking to running
In eight weeks, Adut recovered from severe malnutrition and was able to walk, six months later she is running
When we first met Adut she was fourteen-month-old, but not able to walk. She was so weak after weeks of not eating, caused by a malaria infection. She was quiet and somewhat indifferent to her surroundings.
After eight weeks with ready-to-use therapeutic food and malaria treatment, Adut was discharged from the UNICEF supported nutrition programme. Her energy was back and she started walking on her own. She was still a bit shaky when we left her the last time, but now she is running around with her peers.
Adut's father, William Deng, says his daughter is more opinionated than ever. "She is not happy being told what to do, such as simple chores,' William says chuckling. But he would take a pouting Adut over a sick Adut any day he says, remembering well how weak she was when she was admitted to the nutrition programme.
Adut is spending her days with her siblings and neighbors playing like most girls her age. UNICEF provided her with some games to stimulate her brain development since she was very sick for a longer period during the crucial 1000 days. The fundamental brain development is happening up until the child is two years of age, and if a child is malnourished for a longer period in this phase, it can cause stunted growth and brain damage.
The only setback since Adut's recovery is that she is diagnosed as diabetic and will need insulin for the rest of her life. According to her father, this is an illness that runs in his family, therefore they are used to it.
Adut is eating well and her favorite is cassava and greens, but as most children she is also a huge fan of sweets. This is also one of the reasons why the number one medicine for malnutrition, ready-to-use therapeutic food, is sweet.
In 2020, UNICEF expect 1.3 million children in South Sudan to suffer from acute malnutrition, close to 300,000 of them will be severely affected such as Adut. Over 1,100 UNICEF supported nutrition centres across South Sudan will handle most of these cases and more than 9/10 will most likely make it. That said, more needs to be done to prevent children from getting malnourished in the first place. Denying children their right to health is not only affecting children directly, it will also affect the future of South Sudan. After all, these children are the future.
UNICEF's nutrition programmes are generously supported by UK AID.