Fighting a Silent Killer: Malnutrition in Yemen
7,500 cartons of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) have been provided along with routine medication, benefiting 7,500 children under five years old in Hajjah Governorate
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Malnutrition in Yemen is one of the first causes of child mortality. This health issue is compounded by a scrambling health system, and limited knowledge about nutrition and children dietary needs. To improve the situation, UNICEF has partnered with the Red Crescent Society to support Al-Dhaher Health Center, in Hajjah Governorate, north-western part of Yemen. Thanks to the support from the United Nations Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 7,500 cartons of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) have been provided along with routine medication such as amoxicillin and deworming tablets, benefiting 7,500 children under five years old in the governorate.
Up to 300 Children Visit Malnutrition Clinics Each Month
Case Worker Wafa Hussain screens children – from newborns to five-year-olds – for moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and approves emergency cases for the Red Crescent Society in Hajjah governorate. The clinic receives up to 300 visitors per month, and it is the only centre in the area that provides malnutrition screening.
“Some children present many complications, including anemia, pneumonia, severe diarrhea, and very high temperatures. Our role is to screen them, assess their needs, admit them as necessary, and treat them until they recover”, she explains.
UNICEF procures ready-to-use therapeutic food such as Plumpy Nut, soya for pregnant and lactating women, and essential drugs for children with severe acute malnutrition. In addition, UNICEF supports field workers with nutritional staples, vaccines, reproductive health supplies, and covers some financial costs.
Fourty-year-old Afrah Yahia holds a nursing diploma and works for the Al-Dhaher Health Center, in Hajjah governorate. Like the team at the Red Crescent Society, she sees close to 300 children each month.
In Afrah’s experience, early intervention and prevention are vital to detecting and treating malnutrition, not to mention avoiding any risk of complications. Whenever she has the opportunity, Afrah educates mothers on the importance of hygiene and encourages parents to bring their children in for screening – even if the children look healthy.
Fortunately, she was able to reach Elham Mohammed, whose three-year-old daughter, Orjwan, was struggling with malnutrition. Al-Dhaher Health Center is half an hour away from their home, but the pair made the trip to make sure the girl was fine.
“I brought my daughter in for screening, and they ended up treating her for malnutrition. I have four other children, two of them need artificial respiration, and I always bring them to this center for vaccinations and routine medical treatments. I am so grateful that Orjwan now has a healthy body weight and a proper diet.”
By providing supplies and financial support, UNICEF helps communities in their fight against malnutrition. One child at a time.