Chad, 18th of October 2012. Mariam, 15, feeds therapeutic food to her sister Faltouma, 10 month, while on the left Aljema, 8, feeds her sister Toma at the UNICEF supported Bitkine outpatient therapeutic feeding center in the town of Bitkine, Guera province.
By Jessica Mony
Guera, Chad, 18 October 2012 - Mariam, 15, and Aljema, 8, are listening intently to a man in a white coat. This animateur is animatedly informing them about hygiene, using a mosquito net, breastfeeding and good feeding practices. They have just joined a crowd of women lining up to take their children to their weekly check up at the Bitkin outpatient therapeutic feeding centre in Mongo province, Chad. Mariam and Aljema cradle their 10 month old twin sisters Toma and Faltouma on their laps. Theyve brought their sisters here today because their mother Kumani has a headache so the girls made the three hour journey by foot on their own.
The family have always been subsistence farmers, growing peanuts, sorghum and beans on the land beside their home to feed their family. We went hungry here last year., Kumani says. When the rains failed to come and the family began to run out of food, Kumanis husband left home to find work. They havent heard from him since and dont know where he is. Like so many families across the Sahel, when food is scarce and families have no other means, fathers leave home to find whatever work they can to keep their families alive.
Without their father and 7 children to feed, Kumani was desperate. During the drought we collected wood and tried to sell it at the market in Bitkin. Sometimes I stayed in Bitkin and collected water for people to earn some money to feed my children. It was not easy. I feel this was a big problem, I have many children, I was completely stressed.
Even before her husband left, the family was already beset with tragedy. In October last year Kumanis two year old son died from a combination of malnutrition and malaria. He got headaches, his temperature got very high, then he got diarrhoea and he died. It is difficult, you find your child like this. He was so small. He is dead
he is not there. Kumani explained the devastation and its effect on his twin sister: When her twin brother died she was completely sick. She got very sick and skinny and I thought she would die too. Every time I see my daughter, it reminds me of him.
At the time, Kumani was pregnant and two months later she gave birth to a second set of twins, Toma and Faltouma. I was happy, but it was the middle of the drought and I was worried. But I was happy to have my twins. This household is blessed. Its very lucky to have twins. Like all Kumanis children, the twins were born inside the familys home. All my children were born here (motions to house). My eldest daughter helped me give birth. But before she was old enough I did it on my own.
A few weeks ago the twins began to get sick. Thankfully a UNICEF-supported outpatient therapeutic feeding centre had recently opened nearby. Before, most people had to go to the hospital. It was crowded. Now with the health centre its good, its less crowded. Once I went to the hospital. There were so many children waiting, you have to stay the night A health worker visited Kumanis village and encouraged her to take her children to the centre. Since the centre has been open, I have taken the twins three times. The health worker came to my village and told me to come to the centre.
The centre has brought some relief to a family who has already been through so much. Before that, I worried completely. They were malnourished, and sick. And I asked myself, what can I do to help my children?. Since going to the centre, the twins are already getting better. Now they are better than before. I see the improvement. Before going to the centre, they were very thin. The Plumpynut gave them strength. The twins have gradually gained weight- Faltouma from 4.6kg to 5.1kg and Toma from 5.2kg to 5.5kg with a programme of ready to use therapeutic food and close monitoring once a week by the health workers at the centre. The UNICEF-trained head nurse at the centre Mohamed Tchere Seid is pleased with their progress. Kumani is clearly relieved too, Before they attended the centre, if I put one of them on my back, they were so small you couldnt even see there was a baby on my back! Before attending the centre, they would only just sleep all the time. Now after the centre and the plumpynut now they are even starting to crawl!
Thankfully the twins are now healthy again, but the hunger gap between harvests will come again next year and the threat of malnutrition wont be far away. UNICEF-trained animateurs are ensuring mothers can give their children the best chance of avoiding malnutrition. Kumani is also thinking about the future and the lessons she has learnt: I will keep a small grain store which will help me feed them next time there is a drought. Because we are learning from this drought I have to prepare. I know all the prevention messages: wash your hands, wash your baby, dont let them get dirty. Always give them clean water. The health workers (at the centre) also told me to always let them sleep under a net. And then they gave me a net. They gave me soap to take home then they told us I should wash them and wash my hands before cooking. They said come to the centre every week until the twins are better. Thats why today even though I wasnt feeling well this morning I sent my daughters.
Her eldest daughter Mariam too is thinking about the future and what part she might play in preventing hunger in her village. I want to be a farmer. I want to prevent famine here. If I learn farming I can change the way we farm, we can save our grains, we can save lives.
Whilst the challenges for families like Kumanis are immense and their future livelihood governed by an irregular climate, the impact the UNICEF-supported nutrition centre and messages Kumani has learnt are clear. We thank you for bringing this programme. Otherwise we would be in a terrible situation. Without this, my child could have died.
UK Nat Com - local files at \Unicef-mediaphotosKey-initiativesIFSahel-Stories-2012ChadKumani_and_twins
Έντεκα παιδιά κάτω των πέντε ετών πεθαίνουν κάθε λεπτό σε όλο τον κόσμο, σύμφωνα με στοιχεία που παρατίθενται στην έκθεση προόδου για το 2015 της UNICEF.
Ο υποσιτισμός ευθύνεται για το 50% των θανάτων παιδιών κάτω των πέντε ετών.
Στις κύριες αιτίες των θανάτων περιλαμβάνονται εκτός από τον υποσιτισμό, η προωρότητα, η πνευμονία, οι επιπλοκές κατά τη διάρκεια της εγκυμοσύνης και του τοκετού, η διάρροια και η ελονοσία.
Η θνησιμότητα των παιδιών εμφανίζει πτώση 53% από το 1990, ενώ υπολογίζεται ότι 38 εκατομμύρια ζωές μπορούν να σωθούν ως το 2030 αν η πρόοδος επιταχυνθεί και άλλο.
Τα στοιχεία της έκθεσης δείχνουν ότι
από το 2000, όταν τα κράτη δεσμεύτηκαν για την επίτευξη των αναπτυξιακών στόχων της χιλιετίας (ΑΣΧ), έχουν σωθεί οι ζωές 48 εκατομμυρίων παιδιών κάτω των πέντε ετών. Ο αριθμός των παιδιών που πεθαίνουν ως επί το πλείστον από αιτίες που μπορούν να προληφθούν, ανέρχεται σήμερα σε 5,9 εκατομμύρια το χρόνο, 700 κάθε ώρα, έντεκα κάθε λεπτό.
Είκοσι τέσσερις από τις 81 χώρες χαμηλού και κατώτερου-μεσαίου εισοδήματος, συμπεριλαμβανομένης της Καμπότζης, της Αιθιοπίας, του Μπαγκλαντές και της Ουγκάντας, πέτυχαν τον ΑΣΧ για μείωση της κάτω των πέντε ετών θνησιμότητας κατά τα δύο τρίτα ή περισσότερο. Επίσης, μεταξύ 2000 και 2015, 21 χώρες της υποσαχάριας Αφρικής τριπλασίασαν το ρυθμό προόδου τους, σε σύγκριση με τη δεκαετία του 1990.
Όπως αναφέρεται σε σχετική ανακοίνωση της UNICEF, «
απλές, υψηλά αποτελεσματικές, οικονομικά αποδοτικές λύσεις, που συνέβαλαν σε αυτή τη δραματική μείωση των θανάτων παιδιών κάτω των πέντε ετών, περιλαμβάνουν την επίβλεψη από ειδικευμένο προσωπικό κατά την προγεννητική και μεταγεννητική φροντίδα, το μητρικό θηλασμό, τους εμβολιασμούς, τις επεξεργασμένες με εντομοκτόνο κουνουπιέρες, τη βελτιωμένη ύδρευση και αποχέτευση, τη θεραπεία ενυδάτωσης από το στόμα για τη διάρροια, αντιβιοτικά για την πνευμονία, συμπληρώματα διατροφής και θεραπευτικές τροφές».