By Diguera Azoura
Different crises that Chad has been going through have put a brake on its economic and social development and badly affected the most vulnerable populations, notably women and children. Since 2010 in the 12 Sahel belt provinces, acute malnutrition among under-five children has remained above the emergency level of 15% as defined by the World Health Organization.
As we can notice on a daily basis in these regions, health centers are never empty and are always full of woman and malnourished babies as we could see in Bolingo, on this Wednesday, in the center of Chad. In Chad 13,5 of the children are suffering from acute malnutrition.
With the generous support of its donor, the Department for International Development (DFID) from the UK government, UNICEF has set up a lifesaving intervention to respond to the overwhelming needs of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) cases in these regions.
On that same Wednesday, in Alibeit, another village from the Sahel Belt province, a mother is breastfeeding her baby, while waiting to be received by the Nutrition health workers of the Health center. For Mrs. Hamida Isaac aged of 26 years old, “coming to that health center has made my daughter Rama, 23 months old, feeling much better. Before I come here, my child was always ill, and I watched her helplessly as she was growing lean”. Coming to the Health center afterwards not only did helped her daughter getting well, but also taught her that breastfeeding, initiated within the first hour of birth, provided exclusively for six months, is one of the most powerful ways to give children the healthiest start to life.
DFID contribution also made it possible to extend Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) through the opening of 26 new nutritional units and to treat more than 76,000 under-5 malnourished children in the provinces concerned by this project with a satisfactory overall cure rate of 90.3%.
The contribution of community relays is also an undeniable factor in the fight against malnutrition.
Falmata Adoum, a community relay working in Atrone, a district of N’Djamena explains how her work is bringing new hope to the mothers who visits the health center: “I usually give advice to the women who come to the health center on how to take good care of their children. Many of them listen with the best attention possible, and usually even come back to thank me after some months, when they notice a big change on their children’s lives”.
In Chad 13,5 of the children are suffering from acute malnutrition. In order to ensure the provision of quality care and free care for the CMAM services, UNICEF provided the equipment required to detect and manage cases of malnutrition: Mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) measurement tapes, Height boards, Child scales.
The support of the Department for International Development (DFID) has been instrumental in improving the management of malnutrition in terms of, access, coverage and quality and strengthen the promotion to hygiene, for SAM children in the nutritional units of the provinces affected by nutrition and food insecurity in Chad.