When malnutrition and sickness coincide, easy to treat illnesses like diarrhea can turn fatal. Malnutrition remains an underlying cause in nearly half of all childhood deaths — 3.1 million children each year.
Disease and malnutrition: a self-reinforcing relationship
Recognising the symbiotic relationship between malnutrition and sickness, Action Against Hunger also fights the diseases that accompany poor nutrition. Through our efforts to fight acute, moderate, and severe malnutrition, we not only strive to save children from starvation, but seek to restore them to health. When a child undergoes treatment at a feeding centre, we administer medication to prevent the kinds of infection and illness that can be most devastating if allowed to take root.
The medications dispensed will vary depending on region, country, and national health protocols, but most frequently we administer the following three: Amoxicillin, an antibiotic effective against a wide spectrum of infections; Medendazole, which kills most intestinal worms; and anti-malarial drugs.
Other health related activities include vaccination programmes and vitamin A and iron supplementation for mothers and children. as well as training on fostering health through good nutritional practices. In keeping with our approach to humanitarian aid, we coordinate closely with existing public health system to ensure that our work draws on and strengthens local expertise. In the aftermath of a crisis, Action Against Hunger can help restore the public health infrastructure by fielding mobile health clinics to areas affected by epidemic, by rehabilitating and restocking public health centres, and by training local medical personnel to administer vaccinations and prenatal health care, and identify the symptoms of disease and malnutrition.