Under-Fives prone to malnutrition

Meet 1-and-a-half-year-old, Zainab, who was admitted to Magbenteh Community Hospital Children’s Ward 10 days ago weighing just 4kg.

Zainab arrived with her mother having travelled from their small village, 30 kilometres away from our health facility with acute malnutrition. Her mother explained that her husband had been severely sick, using all the money they had to treat him, leaving Zainab with little food.

Cases of malnutrition in Sierra Leone can sometimes be attributed to culture, as in this case. Zainab’s father is the provider for the family, the main bread winner, and therefore financially the family must ensure that he is kept strong and healthy. This has led to unintentional neglect of the child.  Similarly, the culture of giving the child to extended family members to look after them, and don’t have the capacity or compassion to do so, may also lead to malnutrition.

Earlier on in the year, Magbenteh Community Hospital was blessed with a small donation of therapeutic milk and plumpy nut from the District Nutritionist from the Food and Nutrition Department for the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, to be used with cases such as Zainab’s.

The nurses are currently providing Zainab with milk (F75 followed by (F100) which is inserted through a tube as she is unable to eat for herself. This feeding phase will be shadowed by plumpy-nut for 4 to 5 days until she gains appetite.

David, our Nutrition Officer, is currently monitoring Zainab’s progress. He explains, “malnutrition cases arise due to a lack of proper feeding of the children. We advise parents on this and hope they listen. Children are prone to malnutrition because of their fast growth and high metabolism they not only need energy food but body building as well. A balanced diet is very necessary to child development.