Nutrition

Photo: Oriane Zerah

At Fight Hunger Foundation, our agenda is not centred on just feeding hungry children. We realise that malnutrition is a medical condition and respond to it accordingly. Towards this end, we focus on the following measures in our quest to provide a sound foundation for the children that are the future of this country.

COMMUNITY-BASED MANAGEMENT OF ACUTE MALNUTRITION :

Our assessment, treatment and prevention activities are designed and carried out together with communities and health services. Children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and with a medical condition are treated in intensive-care inpatient facilities known as Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres. These hospital-like centres required children and their parents or caregivers to remain in residence during their month-long treatment.

The recent development of innovative food products for treating severe acute malnutrition, known as Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF), now permits treatment to take place in the community at any time and place, resulting in a shift towards new outpatient treatment programmes. Such programmes, known as Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition, offer severely malnourished children the opportunity to be treated at home, rather than in a centre, with family and community support for recovery. Health professionals assist communities to diagnose nutritional problems, and oversee community-level activities.

DIAGNOSING MALNUTRITION:

The key to saving the life of a malnourished child is early detection. For this, we use the middle upper arm circumference measurement or MUAC – if a child’s upper arm measures less than 11.5 cm, then he/she are suffering from severe acute malnutrition – and we check for oedema, which is observed in painful swellings in legs and feet. Children suffering from moderate malnutrition are referred to Anganwadi centres, while those with severe acute malnutrition are referred to government-run Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres.

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TREATING MALNUTRITION

Treatment is very high priority as children unable to receive it are in danger of losing their lives. We treat cases of severe acute malnutrition with inpatient care and cases of moderate acute malnutrition with community-based outpatient programmes. We always work in close collaboration with communities, local partners and local health services.

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PREVENTING MALNUTRITION:

The one measure that can end child hunger for good is prevention, and Fight Hunger Foundation understands that there is not just one way of preventing malnutrition. Keeping this in mind we work with community health workers and pregnant and lactating mothers in order to empower them to save their children from illness. This is achieved by making them aware of the key weapons in the fight against malnutrition – good hygiene and care practices for children, education on nutrition and child and infant feeding, and the importance of breastfeeding amongst much else.

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BUILDING LOCAL CAPACITY:

We combat malnutrition by strengthening public health systems. This is done by training hospital staff and community health workers besides integrating our programmes into existing health structures.

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