Delegation of the European Union to Honduras

 

Fighting hunger: help for malnourished children in Pakistan

20/10/2015 - 00:00
News stories

AFS - WINS: Women and Children/Infant Improved Nutrition in Sindh

Nutrition experts saved the life of baby Sajjad

"We had lost hope after continuous expensive treatment for three months, but now Sajjad is doing well. I feel so happy that he’s eating properly and has the proper nutritional supplies, guidance and care at no cost."

Nathi Jatt, Sajjad's mother

Nathi Jatt, Sajjad's mother

CONTEXT

In Pakistan the rate of maternal and child mortality is high with the under 5 mortality rate at 87 per 1000 live births.

OBJECTIVES

  • To improve the nutrition status of children and pregnant and lactating women in Pakistan.
  • To strengthen capacity to address the high rates of malnutrition in district Thatta of Sindh Province, Pakistan.

RESULTS

  • The project has allowed the screening of almost 160 000 children under five and almost 50 000 pregnant or lactating women for malnutrition.
  • Almost 33 000 of the children screened and over 7 000 pregnant or lactating women screened were diagnosed with severe or moderate acute malnutrition.
  • Merlin runs an Outpatient Therapeutic Programme to treat patients locally, including vaccination and nutrition services.

TESTIMONY

Nutrition experts saved the life of baby Sajjad

Sajjad was only nine months old but his parents, Nathi and Ali Jatt, were scared he might not live much longer. He had not been eating well and had lost a lot of weight. Having suffered two miscarriages and the death of a baby at just three days old, Nathi was praying for better luck with Sajjad. She and her husband were doing everything possible for their son – even taking out a hefty loan to pay for three months’ worth of expensive medical treatment – which, however, had failed to make a difference.

When Merlin’s nutrition experts visited the couple’s village of Haji Umer Jat in January 2014, they examined Sajjad and found him to be severely malnourished. They recommended immediately sending him to the nutrition stabilisation centre at a hospital in the district capital Thatta. However, the family hardly could afford to take travel so far with their son.

Fortunately, Merlin staff were able to refer Sajjad to the nearby health facility where the EU-WINS project had enabled an Outpatient Therapeutic Programme (OTP). Here, the medical officer prescribed the medicines needed and gave Mrs Nathi one week’s worth of sachets of ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF), a highly nutritious peanut-based paste. Two sachets per day are equivalent to 1 000 calories and are taken in addition to regular food and breast milk.

Sajjad’s health improved dramatically; in just a week, he gained 300g in weight and 0.4cm in height. Merlin experts also advised Nathi to resume breastfeeding, giving her advice on exercises promoting “re-lactation”. After two months of treatment, Sajjad had achieved a healthy weight of 7.7 kg.

Nathi says, “We had lost hope after continuous expensive treatment for three months, but now Sajjad is doing well.  I feel so happy that he’s eating properly and has the proper nutritional supplies, guidance and care at no cost". She also has more time for hand embroidery, an important supplementary source of income.

Sajjad’s father agrees. “Thanks to Merlin, Sajjad is now healthy. I am very thankful to the nutrition team who are helping poor children in Thatta District,” says Ali. Nathi is now the leader of a breastfeeding group in the village and does voluntary nutrition work, referring severely malnourished children to the OTP. Ali is a member of the village health committee and volunteers to help the nutrition team.

Editorial Sections: