In my role as program manager, I coordinate all program issues for the Aid for Needy Development Programme. Plan and execute tasks through other line managers and supervisors. Organize meetings, attend national nutrition coordination meetings, plan and facilitate training. I am also responsible for doing monthly reports for all of the activities.
I have been serving in this capacity for the ANDP since 2005.
The main causes of malnutrition are rooted in the high level of poverty. But actually care practices are another important issue. Malnutrition is a cycle – you bring the child to the centre, the child gets well. After maybe 6 months the child comes back because the mother doesn’t have the means to take care of their children. Often they are teenagers who are not really prepared to take care of kids. So it is the grandmother who ends up caring for the child. So there are numerous problems.
First of all we need to continue with the programmes which are already underway. For example, the Essential Nutrition Action (ENA) programme – a community based programme where people are trained to carry out one-to-one tuition which can be done anywhere (in the church, in the school, at the household level). This is the best way to treat the key beneficiaries. To educate and sensitise them on key issues such as exclusive breastfeeding or the need for Vitamin A supplementation and to provide essential information which they need to change their behaviours. If we change the behaviour of the people to take positive actions, I’m sure things will be alright. But it is a challenge and it will take time.
Mothers have embraced the introduction of the Outpatient Therapeutic Program (OTP) activities in the communities in which we are working. We see that the inpatient and outpatient centres are coordinating the cycle of treatment. In these cycles, when a child’s medical situation is stabilized in the inpatient facility, the child is ‘transfered’ to the outpatient centre to complete their nutritional treatment.
Nutrition is not a priority issue for most people. So our challenges have been trying to get people to understand the importance of nutrition, to be more practical, to get involved with other partners and to bring nutrition to a level where it is a reality and not just picture it.
We also face issues integrating the treatment of malnutrition into the national health system. It is easy to start a programme within the country health team or to convince the ministry to train staff. However the problems lie with the lack of human resources. The programme can be integrated into smaller health facilities however when you try to fully integrate your programme into a health system there are a lot of staff to take on. There are often too many activities for the staff members to take on and we have very limited manpower.
My motivation is that I am happy to see a severely malnourished child recovering from malnutrition and rejoining his/her brothers in happiness.
My inspiration is team spirit, working together as a team to achieve a desired goal.
Well, to be frank, this is one area where advocacy needs to be carried out. Some sensitisation and education really has to be done, maybe by the media. TV and radio can be used to sensitise and to get people more involved in nutrition. For example, if we had the resources, we could go to the media and firstly tell people what nutrition is and the impact that malnutrition has on society. Most of the time, people don’t understand nutrition. When a child is sick they just think that it’s malaria or a fever. They fail to realise the underlying consequences associated with malnutrition. So I think that this kind of education is very important.
When I leave here, one thing I will take with me from the training is the importance of advocacy. Advocacy doesn’t have to be a very big group. In the coordination meetings that I will be attending in the future, I hope to ensure that I prevail on influential and high people in politics and government the key messages on nutrition. It is my vision to let the nutrition champions know about what is happening in my country in comparison with other countries in the West Africa region. It is my vision to do that.
Click here to read about Mark, who was treated by one of the Therapeutic Feeding Centres which the ANDP runs.