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Education and awareness of malnutrition are low in rural Mali and before Hawa’s arrival, many villagers like Many didn’t know how to prevent a child getting sick or how to recognise the signs of malnutrition. Malnutrition was often thought of as a sign of the devil and out of desperation, many families would turn to ineffective traditional remedies. Part of Hawa’s role is to talk to the parents about ways of preventing malnutrition. “We talk about family planning, malaria and other diseases, hygiene and the importance of vaccinations. Before I came here there was not much knowledge about health or nutrition,” says Hawa.
This ground-breaking project is increasing the proportion of malnourished children treated, by transforming access to treatment through community health workers, like Hawa. This is because community health workers can reach a far higher number of children in a much more cost effective way, and give the same quality of care as a health facility.
“Since Hawa has been in the village, I’ve noticed a change” says Simbo’s Mum Mamissa, “there were a lot of sick children before, but now there are few”.