Angola Fighting Child Malnutrition; PIN Volunteers Have Examined 230,000 Children and Treated over 32,000 Malnourished

Angola Fighting Child Malnutrition; PIN Volunteers Have Examined 230,000 Children and Treated over 32,000 Malnourished

23. 10. 2013

Prague, Kuito (23 October 2013) – More than 560 local volunteers of People in Need have been helping to fight child malnutrition in Angola for the last year. In Bié province, which was devastated by the civil war and where every sixth child is suffering from lack of food, trained volunteers have examined 230,000 children and over 32,000 of them have been treated for malnutrition as a result of People in Need's effort. Now, 96 % of children are cured thanks to special therapeutic nutrition. The community health volunteers operate in a territory as large as a half of the Czech Republic.

Last year Angola was struck by extreme droughts because of which the farmers lost a major part of their already poor crop. That even worsened the issue of child malnutrition in the affected areas,” Jitka Škovránková, Desk Officer for Angola, explains the causes of malnutrition. People in Need together with other organizations provides treatment in six provinces where the situation is the gravest. For instance in Bié province, where People in Need is operating, one in every six children is malnourished.

The solution of this grave situation is further complicated by very low population density and vast distances. “People in Need has trained 560 community health volunteers, who work primarily in areas that can be even tens of kilometres away from any health clinic. They provide access to primary health care in areas where this would not be otherwise possible,” Michaela Sedláčková, who coordinates the project directly in Angola, comments.

My child didn’t eat and was very skinny. Now he eats and plays games again

The volunteers working on this project, which has been supported by the United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF, The Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department of the European Commission (ECHO), and the People in Need Real Gift humanitarian e-shop, have examined over 230,000 children and have treated over 32,000 of them for malnutrition.

During the treatment the children are given special therapeutic nourishment made of peanuts and baby formula enriched with vitamins and minerals. This nourishment does not require any further preparation and is easy to store. There is for example no need to keep it in the refrigerator, which the people in the villages do not have anyway. “The treatment lasts on average four to eight weeks and thanks to it 96 % of the children get cured of malnutrition. The most serious cases are then sent to nutrition centres at health clinics,” Michaela Sedláčková explains.

Local mothers praise the volunteers’ work very much. “My two-year-old daughter was very skinny and suffered from diarrhoea for a long time. Then she was given the peanut paste from the community volunteer and now she is healthy again,” says a mother from Kambandua region. “Before, my child didn’t eat and was very skinny and with the cure that volunteer Fátima gave us, he is  able to eat and play games again,” says a mother of a malnourished child from Kuemba. “One of the volunteers, Pedro, is actively seeking our sick children and helping them right in our house. I do not have to walk to the hospital for several hours anymore,” a mother from the town of Kunhinga relishes.

75,000 people have taken part in the health lecture programme

Apart from spotting and treating malnourished children, the community volunteers organize lectures in villages. “At the lectures they explain how to prevent children from suffering malnutrition or how important it is to breastfeed babies in the first months of their lives. They also raise awareness of the principles of proper hygiene and prevention of diarrhoeal diseases among the villagers,” Michaela Sedláčková explains. The lectures have already been visited by 75 thousand people, mostly parents.

In our village, I explained how important it was not to give the newborn anything else to eat but the breast milk. The family that followed my advice had a healthy baby. A baby in the other family that did not pay attention to my advice got sick. And now everybody believes it,” volunteer Maria describes her experience from a little village in Andulo municipality.

At the same time, People in Need is training farmers in how to grow nutritionally beneficial crops, and in addition women and mothers are trained in how to prepare meals rich in nutrients. The organization is also helping four primary schools introduce a programme of school meals.

The work in Angola is a part of a broader effort of People in Need to fight malnutrition in the world. “Malnutrition, which is suffered from by hundreds of million people in the world, is not just a result of poverty; it is also its cause. A child that does not have enough nourishment in the first 1,000 days of their life will be affected for the rest of their life. They will have poorer results at school as well as possibilities of their success in life; future mothers will then be more likely to have malnourished children again,” Jan Mrkvička, PIN Relief and Development Department Director, explains. “Yet, even sufficient amount of food is not enough. Malnutrition arises as a result of insufficient education of those who take care of the children, due to unbalanced diet, poor health care, or poor hygiene standards and drinking dirty water,” Jan Mrkvička adds.

For more information please contact:

Jitka Škovránková, PIN Desk Officer for Angola, +420 777 787 934

Author: Michala Sedláčková, Petr Štefan