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Moyamba is the capital city of the homonymous district, one of the most vulnerable in Sierra Leone with regards to under-nutrition, food insecurity and access to clean water. ACF has been operating in the area since 2009; the team implements an integrated approach to fight under-nutrition in a sustainable way, including prevention and treatment and basing its strategy on the capacity building of the local actors.
While the district counts several primary health units, there is only one hospital for its 300 000 inhabitants. The most complicated cases of severe acute malnutrition are referred to the in-patient facility of the hospital, which ACF continuously supported over the last four years. When visiting the place last Friday, I could observe a successful demonstration of an efficient treatment protocol: the supplementary suckling technique.
Hawa Kamara’s youngest child, Mohamed, now three months old weighs 2,4kg while he was more than 3kg when he was born! Actually his mother, not familiar with the optimal care practices, mainly had fed him with water and sugar so far. Mohamed’s condition was deteriorating quickly and he was referred from its village 50km away to the Moyamba hospital.
Breast milk is by far the best food for a 3 months old child; but Hawa was not stimulated to produce it and Mohamed was not used to suckling it. Hence the simple but efficient technique consisting in taking the mother’s milk from a cup to the baby’s mouth through a tube while installing both the mother and the child in breastfeeding position. On the picture, Hawa is supported by Christiana, a nurse at the Moyamba hospital and Abi, the ACF nurse in charge of the capacity building of the district medical staffs for the management of acute malnutrition.
This technique is a real breaker of the vicious circle where our beneficiaries were locked: from one side, Mohamed receives the aliments he needs to recover and gets used to the suckling reflex; from the other side, Hawa is stimulated so will produce more milk and she gets trained on the best practices to take care of her baby.