Early detection and treatment of malnutrition among children under 5
Preserving nutrition services in east Darfur to save lives
In East Darfur, health facilities like Omeid primary health unit located in El Ferdos locality, remain operational, delivering lifesaving services for displaced and host communities daily.
Almost 6 months into the conflict, UNICEF and partners have been able to support the Ministry of Health to keep 84 per cent of primary healthcare centres (PHCs) and outpatient therapeutic programmes (OTPs) functioning.
Two-year-old Seed arrived at the facility, ill and weak. He had a high fever and a flue. In addition to routine medical checkups, Seed was also screened for malnutrition, a requirement for all children under five years following a spike in malnutrition cases at the facility since the onset of the conflict. In September alone, the malnutrition cases rose from 48 to 65.
Using the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) tape, a simple yet innovative band used to detect malnutrition, Seed’s arm was measured. His small and fragile arm measured only 11.3m and in the red colour code, indicating he was malnourished. Nutrition screening at the facility is supporting early detection and initiation of treatment for all affected children.
Health workers immediately enrolled Seed on the out-patient therapeutic programme (OTP) to start treatment which also included the nutritious ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) delivered by UNICEF. The micronutrient paste packed in sachets is full of vitamins and minerals that will help Seed gain weight and energy.
Across the country, UNICEF is maintaining the supply and delivery of nutrition supplies including therapeutic milk and food benefiting children affected like Seed and saving their lives.
Sustainable solutions for better feeding practices
While Seed receives treatment, his mother is also benefitting from nutrition sessions delivered at the facility. Here she is educated on proper infant and young child feeding practices including food preparation and mixing for balanced diets that will benefit Seed after recovery and protect him from relapsing.
It’s been two weeks since Seed was enrolled on the therapeutic programme but his health is greatly improving. His MUAC reading has shot to from 11.3 to 12.4 m – indicating an improvement. As he continues his recovery journey, he enjoys the wonder peanut food – RUTF- provided by the health workers until he is fully recovered and discharged from the nutrition programme.
"We greatly benefit from the healthcare service at Omeid. Before coming here, I was concerned about Seed's sleep patterns and was constantly occupied with his care. Now, I have the time to manage the household as Seed's sleep has improved, and most importantly, he has begun to gain weight," said, Awadia Hamid, Seed’s mother.
At Omeid primary health unit, World Vision with UNICEF support, provides a comprehensive package of health and nutrition services benefiting displaced children and those from host communities. The integrated service package includes routine vaccinations, nutrition screening, care and treatment, clinical consultations, sexual and reproductive health, and essential medication supply.
Outside health facilities, house to house malnutrition screening of children under five for early detection and initiation of treatment to save lives is also done to ensure no child is left behind.