Fighting malnutrition and ensuring a healthier future
UNICEF and China respond to the nutrition crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
UVIRA TERRITORY, SOUTH KIVU PROVINCE, DR Congo – Full of joy and relief, Marita looks at her little girl who, was once extremely weak. "She could no longer stand or play," the mother recalls. It was thanks to therapeutic food received at a UNICEF-supported health centre that the little girl - who had been suffering from acute malnutrition - regained her health.
Mapendo, another resident of Uvira territory, did not know what to do when her twins fell ill. "I was saddened because I couldn't do anything," says the mother, who could not afford to take them to a health centre. When a UNICEF-supported community worker visited, Mapendo learned that 12-month-old Bukuru and Butoto were malnourished and needed to be taken care of. "It was a miracle to learn that my children could be treated for free," says Mapendo.
With the support of the Chinese Government, UNICEF is working to care for more than 17,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in 16 health areas in South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Treatment is complemented by awareness-raising sessions on infant and young child feeding.
Reassured that the treatment would be free, Mapendo went to the health centre to have her twins examined and the results revealed that they were suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Both were given ready-to-use therapeutic food and after a few weeks the boys started to gain weight.
At each appointment at the health centre, Mapendo participates in awareness-raising sessions on good nutrition practices. During cooking demonstrations, community relays explain to families how to ensure a balanced diet for their children by using local and inexpensive foods. "I don't want my children to go back to the same situation, so I will always make sure they have a balanced diet," concludes the mother.