On a hot day at the CREN (Centre for Recuperation and Nutrition Education) hospital, the ACF team was notified that a severely malnourished child will be coming in for a check-up. Miara was treated with Plumpy’Nut before but had slipped back into a malnourished state. Plumpy’Nut was prescribed again but was not showing improvements.
It was not difficult to spot her and her mother, Yonli, in the waiting room. Miara looked very ill. She had a colourful little dress on, but her arms and legs are visibly very, very, thin. It is hard to believe this tiny girl is two years old.
She had shown some improvements since the last visit, but her measurements remained so alarming that she was referred to CREN. One of ACF’s many roles in Burkina Faso is to assist families to get to the CREN, help train local staff, and monitor these teams. ACF offers the equipment and expertise to assess malnutrition as well as supplementary medicines.
At CREN, Miara and her mother had to stay overnight to ensure she was eating the Plumpy’Nut and progressing. Often families stay for a week or so. This is normal to treat and monitor a severely malnourished child. Mothers are given food, a bed, a blanket, and a mosquito net. The children are cared for using the specially formulated therapeutic milk F75 or F100, Plumpy’Nut, and other medicines if necessary. If the child is too ill to eat, a feeding tube will be administered by the hospital.
While the children are getting better, staff psychologists educate the mothers about hygiene – one of the biggest problems that lead to malnutrition. They explain about the need for proper waste disposal and necessity of cleaning children’s backsides, hands, and faces properly to avoid to diarrhoea, another cause of malnutrition. Ways to diversity diets for more nutrients and using clean water are taught as well. The message isn’t always accepted by the women and can take some time to see change.
Programs like these are funded and staffed by ACF. In fact, CREN was built by ACF. The facility has a 17-person limit, but because of the need, they have had as many as 60 children at once.
Miara is on track to have her health restored. Many more families and children like Miara will come through the doors at the CERN Hospital here in Burkina Faso. And with ACF’s programs, there is hope that mothers like Yonli will not loose another child to hunger.