Ahada with her 13-month-old daughter Suldana. Photo: Ibrahim Jirow for Action Against Hunger, Somalia.
Ahada was alarmed when her 13-month-old daughter Suldana fell sick with a high fever and started losing weight rapidly.
“When I saw my daughter’s health state, despair and desolation troubled my soul,” she remembers. Seeing her condition worsen as the days passed, Ahada brought Suldana to one of our Health and Nutrition Treatment Centres in South West Somalia.
Suldana’s family grows produce like maize, millet, and beans for their livelihood. In recent years, the harvest from their farm hasn’t been enough due to recurrent drought, insufficient rainfall, and the infestation of desert locusts on their land.
“Last year was a good one, we received adequate rainfall and started planting a variety of crops with high expectation of getting a good yield and harvest. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned due to the locusts that invaded, eating up all our crops,” says Ahada.
Without any crops left in their stockpile, the family’s food supply fell below what they needed to keep themselves and their children well-fed. Food shortages and inadequate food intake can lead to malnutrition and increases in morbidity rates. Children under five, like Suldana, are most vulnerable. Her family, along with many others in their area, struggled to make ends meet. The only food available was goat milk and porridge, which was not sufficient for the whole family.
To diagnose Suldana, a member of Action Against Hunger’s team used a mid-upper arm circumference measuring band and found the little girl to be in the “red” zone, meaning she suffered from severe acute malnutrition. Photo: Ibrahim Jirow for Action Against Hunger, Somalia.
“I lost hope when I saw Suldana’s condition deteriorating,” remembers Ahada. “I thought she would never get better.”
At our Treatment Centre, our teams examined Suldana and diagnosed her with severe acute malnutrition. She was immediately admitted into the outpatient treatment program, where she was put on a treatment regime and received weekly rations of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF). After eight weeks, Suldana had fully recovered and was discharged. Ahada participated in health and nutrition sessions and received regular support from health workers.
“I never thought she would be able to recover from such a bad state,” says Ahada. “They treated her fever at the beginning and told me it was malnutrition. Thereafter, she was given RUTF and syrup to continue taking at home and that really saved her! Additionally, every week, part of the team visits us at home, giving sessions on hygiene and importance of exclusive breastfeeding, and I have learned so much from that.”
“My appreciation goes to the team, particularly the nurse who has been handling Suldana’s case with patience and dedication. Apart from treatment for my child, I also learned how to treat water, and healthy hygiene practices.”
Thanks to her mother’s dedication, Suldana has now fully recovered from malnutrition. Photo: Ibrahim Jirow for Action Against Hunger, Somalia
Frontline health workers play a vital role in ensuring services reach the most vulnerable children, including Suldana, through both permanent and mobile nutrition and health centres. With support from the Thani Bin Abdullah Bin Thani Al-Thani Humanitarian Fund and other generous donors, Action Against Hunger runs more than 10 health and nutrition centres in South West Somalia alone.
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