Action Against Hunger/ Lys Arango
A strong start for Bhumika
After visiting one of our malnutrition treatment centres in Baran, northern India, three-year-old Bhumika now has the chance to go on to live a full, happy and productive life.
Jul 5 2019
All parents know that being able to feed your child is one of your main concerns in the first few weeks and months of their lives.
However, many parents in the city of Baran, in Rajasthan state in northern India, have limited access to good, nutritious food and medical advice during pregnancy and throughout their children’s early years. This can hamper their child's development and growth.
During one of his routine screenings, Balram, an Action Against Hunger community health worker, met three-year-old Bhumika.
Her mother Sunita was very worried about her failing health.
“She used to have frequent bouts of diarrhoea and vomited, and would also become dehydrated,” she says. “That was how she became malnourished.”
After an examination, Balram immediately referred Bhumika for intensive treatment for severe malnutrition.
“Balram came to our house and checked Bhumika,” Sunita recalls. “He told us she is very weak, we need to get her admitted to the malnutrition treatment centre.”
While Bhumika was admitted to our treatment centre, a doctor would check on her on a daily basis and prescribe medicines. She was also extremely happy as there were also plenty of toys available for her to play with.
During Bhumika’s first visit to our treatment centre, Sunita was also able to access counselling sessions on nutritious food and healthy feeding practices.
After gaining an incredible 500 grams in weight, Bhumika was discharged from the centre after only 16 days.
After Bhumika returned home, we then provided Sunita with a food basket full of ingredients such as pulses and rice that would improve her diet. Our community health workers then gave her a small cooking demonstration to show Sunita how to make the most of her food basket.
An Action Against Hunger community mobiliser and a public health worker monitored Bhumika’s health for six weeks through home visits. Steadily she started to gain even more weight.
“Before Bhumika would be inactive, but now she is more cheerful and playful. Her milk and food intake has increased. Her weight has improved, and she is much better now,” says Balram.
“Before she wouldn’t have milk but now she does. She also eats rotis and vegetables now,” adds Sunita. “I also make sure we both wash our hands before eating.”
Going from strength to strength
Balram and his team are still keeping a close eye on Bhumika’s progress as she goes from strength to strength. They still visit her and Sunita twice a month to continue their counselling and information sessions.
They have also given advice to her parents to make sure she doesn’t relapse – for example telling them they should take Bhumika straight to the hospital if she has the flu, a cough or diarrhoea.
“They also gave me a bowl that I use to keep track of her appetite and measure how much she’s eating,” says Sunita.
“I take Bhumika to the treatment centre every two weeks for a check-up and get her weight checked every week,”
“Before she was weak but she is much better now.”
Like Sunita, every parent wants their child to have the best start in life. But two million children a year die from hunger around the world.
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