Photo: Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger, Kenya
In Kenya, community health volunteers show mothers how to detect child malnutrition at home
“Before Action Against Hunger found us, we were still having many cases of malnutrition,” explains Rose Chepochonyil, a community health volunteer in the village of Kapkitony, northwestern Kenya. “But we are now able to screen our own children for malnutrition.”
With a simple tool known as the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) band, Action Against Hunger gives mothers the power to identify malnutrition in their children privately at home, without the need for a health professional or a visit to the health centre.
As a member of her local mother-to-mother support group, Rose has learned a lot about health and nutrition for herself and her children from Action Against Hunger. Now, she teaches other mothers in her community how to wrap the color-coded MUAC band around their children’s arms to check their nutrition status: green means their child is well-nourished, while yellow and red indicate moderate and severe acute malnutrition. With a yellow or red measurement, the mother can see that her child needs treatment.
Rose shows the MUAC band, a tool to help mothers detect malnutrition at home. Photo: Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger, Kenya
“I feel very proud,” says Rose. “Before I had to go from house to house, but now that has been reduced, because women are now able to screen their children at their home without having other neighbours see that their child is malnourished.”
Not every community has a health facility nearby. Some women have to walk for hours or spend badly-needed funds on transportation to reach a health centre. With Rose’s teachings, mothers can save time and money by checking their children at home.
“What makes me the happiest is that no woman now is spending more money to visit the health facility,” says Rose. “Sometimes the health facility is far, you’ll need to spend on transport, you’ll need to spend on lunch, going and coming back will cost money. But when we are able to take the measurements at home, it reduces those expenses… So, instead of that money being used to visit the health facility it can be used to support school fees for the children. That’s what makes me happy.”
Rose has nine children and all of them are very impressed by their mother’s work. They see her mobilizing others and using what Action Against Hunger’s teams have taught her to teach her community about healthy eating. She also regularly checks their nutrition status using the MUAC tape.
“My children are happy about what I am doing, and they say, ‘my mom does good work’,” says Rose, proudly. “Some of my children are interested. They also want to try to take the measurements…I feel so good, I feel so honoured.”
Rose measures a child’s arm to check their status. Photo: Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger, Kenya
With Action Against Hunger’s support, community health volunteers like Rose are improving the health and wellbeing of families across this region of Kenya.
“Since Action Against Hunger came and supported our groups, I can see that the health of the women and the children has really changed,” says Rose. “I say thank you because all this is due to the efforts being done by Action Against Hunger and through the skills and the knowledge they have given us.”
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