Action Against Hunger is working in an intensive care unit in Matam, Sengal to prevent and treat severe malnutrition.

“I hope she gets better soon. I want her to be healthy.”

Meet Fatima and her daughter Monina, who is receiving treatment for severe malnourishment at the intensive care unit in Matam, Senegal.

By Samantha Doe

Nov 22 2017

Mum-of-two Fatima sits beside her daughter and watches nervously as the doctor assesses her little girl. 24 hours ago, 16-month-old Monina had been admitted to the intensive care unit for malnourished children at the hospital in Matam, Senegal. 

“Monina was already receiving treatment for malnutrition,” Fatima says. “But suddenly she got worse and developed a fever and diarrhoea. Then she stopped eating. I tried feeding her but she refused to eat. I was so worried. So I rushed to the health centre and the nurses referred her to the hospital.”

“Monina’s condition is extremely dangerous,” explains Dr Jen Diene Arouna, who oversees Action Against Hunger’s nutrition treatments in the region. “She has a bacterial infection. At this critical stage, feeding Monina with just food is harmful, because her body has been severely weakened. She needs special treatment. Our priority right now is to stabilise her.”


Malnutrition rates in the desert-like region of Matam in north-eastern Senegal have been above emergency thresholds for years now. And it is children who are the worst affected.


Fatima’s husband helps at a local bakery and like many families in Matam, they own a few animals to make a living. But the family struggles to make ends meet. Poverty in Matam is widespread, and access to water, food and healthcare is poor. To make matters worse, rains are late, killing the animals that families like Fatima’s depend on.

When giving birth to her second child, Fatima developed dangerous complications. Since then, she has struggled with health too.

“Monina and Fatima will stay at the hospital until Monina is strong enough to continue her treatment at home. Whilst here, we will provide Fatima with support and all the information she needs to ensure Monina can regain her health at home. We will also teach her about good nutrition, hygiene and spotting the early signs of malnutrition so she can stay healthy.”

“I feel a bit calmer since I arrived at the hospital last night,” says Fatima. “The nurses are feeding Monina through a nasal tube. Yesterday, she was too weak that she couldn’t even cry or smile. But today she smiled. I hope she gets better soon. I want her to be healthy.”

HOW ACTION AGAINST HUNGER HELPS

Action Against Hunger trains midwives and health workers in Matam to screen, diagnose and treat malnourished children in Matam. We also support six intensive care units for malnourished children with complications – providing medicine, ready-to-use therapeutic food and equipment.

We also work with hospital staff to educate adolescents on good nutrition, the importance of breastfeeding and birth spacing.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

This Autumn, you can help mums and children like Fatima and Monina get the nutritional advice and treatment they need to survive and thrive.

Donate before 2nd December, and your support will go twice as far because the UK Government will match your donation.

 

Images: A. Parsons/i-Images for Action Against Hunger