Over 104 children treated for malnutrition in Yambio

Nelson a one and half year old child was rushed to Yambio primary health care center last week while vomiting and also with diarrhea.
Photo shows mothers with their malnourish babies at Yambio Primary Healthcare Center (PHCC) on 28th September 2023 [Photo: Awan Achiek]

By Awan Achiek

Nelson a one and half year old child was rushed to Yambio primary health care center last week while vomiting and also with diarrhea.

His situation was miraculously diagnosed for severe malnutrition by doctors at Yambio PHCC who with support from the UN Children’ Fund (UNICEF) have diagnosed and treated 104 children with severe and moderate malnutrition since August.

“Nelson was very sick, he was weak and had lost weight before I took him to the hospital. Thanks to the team of nurses and UNICEF,” says Nelson’s mother Foibe Danagbe in an interview with The Dawn in Yambio town of Western Equatoria State.

According to Health Officials in Yambio PHCC, Nelson was treated for severe acute and moderate malnutrition.

Danagbe says that the therapeutic food packets (Plumpy-nut) provided by UNICEF restored her son’s strength and vitality.

Plumpy-nut is a peanut-based paste in a plastic wrap provided to under- five children with severe acute malnutrition.

“Nelson was measured and admitted to the hospital. He was given plumpy nut in the first week and when I started feeding him with plumpy-nut, I saw some changes,” says Danagbe.

Yambio PHCC has treated about 31 children for severe acute and 41 for moderate malnutrition between August and September 2023.

 “My son was able to stand and walk after taking plumpy-nut. My child is now stronger and energetic and he is able to breastfeed well and eats very well,” Danagbe adds.

Flora Anibie also brought her 2-year-old child Suzan with similar conditions to Nelson.

Suzan was vomiting and also suffering with diarrhea.

Anibie says her child had been weighing only 4.6kg which is a sign of malnutrition for children under- five years.

“It started with diarrhea and vomiting, she lost weight and her hair changed to brown and I was advised by other mothers to take her to the hospital,” she says.

“When I brought her to this hospital, she got some treatment and from that day up to now I have seen some changes in her, her health has improved,” Anibie says.

She thanked UNICEF for providing life-saving services to the community of Yambio.

“Suzan is growing fat and her brown hair turned to black thanks to UNICEF for providing services to us and we want them to continue providing these life-saving services in our community,” Anibie says.

Another child, 9-month-old Nancy was also diagnosed with malnutrition, but she also had malaria and typhoid.

“They have given her enough medicine such as metronidazole, anti-malaria, super cereal, and amoxicillin,” says Nancy’s mother.

Nancy’s mother says the doctors advised her to wash her hands before cooking food.

She was given plumpy-nut and super cereal (CSB+) to prepare for her child.

“Sometimes, according to doctors when super cereal is not cooked well, it can cause diarrhea, so we are taught how to cook super cereal well,” she says.

 PHCC receives between 6 to 8 cases of children with severe acute and moderate malnutrition.

An estimated 1.4 million children under- five are malnourished in South Sudan, according to the recent Integrated Food Security Classification Report (IPC).

Violence, displacement, and food shortages are the main causes of escalating malnutrition rates and the growing number of children with severe or acute malnutrition in Yambio.

Malnutrition in children is harmful. Malnutrition during a child’s first two years of life damages physical and cognitive development and is sadly irreversible.

A malnourished child has on average a seven-month delay in starting school and potentially a nearly 20 percent reduction in lifetime earnings.

Adults who were undernourished as children are at risk of developing diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues.

The UN Children’s Fund and partners are supplying Yambio PHCC with RUTF and other essential life-saving medicines.

For the last four years, UNICEF has been procuring an estimated 75 to 80 percent of the world’s RUTF-equivalent to 49,000 metric tons between 2017 to 2021. In total UNICEF procured some two million cartons for South Sudan.

 Flora Gisma is a member of the Mother to Mother Support Group, a body that advocates and supports mothers to have access to health services.

The group which is comprised of 30 members was established in 2017. They were trained in sanitation and washing.

“We advise mothers and even pregnant ones on how to take good care of their children like how to feed them and when to give food to the child,” says Gisma.

“We teach them how to take care of children from 0 to 5 years on how to breastfeed the child.”

“When you go to the farm and upon returning home, before you breastfeed the child, you have to wash your hands properly with soap and your breast to breastfeed the child,” she adds.

Eyaline Justin, Nutrition Assistant at Yambio Primary Healthcare Center said they have discharged 104 children with severe acute malnutrition in the last two months.

 “We have so far treated 104. In September we have received 31 with severe and in August 41,” says Justin.

 Justin says they have been providing in outpatient therapeutic feeding program (OTP) that includes plumpy-nut and amoxicillin to children admitted in the health center.

She said the 104 children admitted to the facility children have stabilized and fully recovered.

“We educate them on the kitchen garden and we talk to mothers on how to care for the child and give a different variety of food to children so that the child doesn’t get malnourish and come back.”

For his part, Joseph Duduka, a Nutrition Officer who works for UNICEF said the program helps with treatment and prevention of malnutrition among children in Yambio.

“This program helps to identify and treat and since it is integrated one, it helps to include components like wash, food security,” says Duduka.

He reveals that UNICEF is doing its best to ensure prevention of malnutrition among children.

“We have children with severe acute malnutrition in the program now are 104 and those that are moderately malnourished are 300 in the active program and they can stay in the program for eight weeks,” says Duduka.

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