Aminata* with her 16-month-old son, at a health post in Senegal

"I want my children to grow up healthy so they can have a bright future"

Meet Aminata*, and her son Abdoulaye, who are receiving medicine and advice to help treat malnutrition.

By Action Against Hunger

Sep 1 2017

This Autumn, join us as we help mums and mums-to-be to create healthier futures for themselves and their children. By supporting the Healthy Mums Healthy Kids appeal, you're helping them to stay healthy and give birth to healthy children. You're helping them learn how to provide the care and nutrition their children need. And you're helping children to grow up strong.

The UK Government will double all donations, so we can provide mums and children in Senegal with the nutrition and support they need to survive and thrive.

Cradling her son Abdoulaye, seventeen-year-old Aminata* steps silently into the waiting room at her local health post.

Eight months pregnant, she has come to the health post for an antenatal check-up and a consultation with Cheikh Sadibou Kane, Action Against Hunger's Health and Nutrition Advisor.

"Abdoulaye has been ill with diarrhoea and vomiting," she says. "A few months ago he was ill with malnutrition. Thankfully, he recovered but today, he is weak and fragile again. I'm very worried."

Aminata's plight is not an isolated challenge for mothers in Matam, Senegal. Sadly, many mums like her struggle to give their children a healthy start in life in the desert-like region. Poverty is widespread and with low access to basic health services, many children fall ill with life-threatening malnutrition.

This threat of malnutrition to a child can start before they are even born. Many mums are still very young when they give birth, at a time when they themselves are going through a critical period of rapid growth, which puts increased demands on their bodies. The younger a girl is when she becomes pregnant, the greater the risks to her health and the health of her baby, and the more likely their children are to be malnourished.

Aminata and her husband rely solely on subsistence agriculture to make a living, but times have been difficult. With no options to earn an income, her husband moved to Dakar, Senegal's capital, where he found a job as a security guard.

Although Aminata is trying to cope as best as she can, she struggles to have access to a healthy diet.  

“I know that I have to eat a diet rich in fish, fruits and vegetables during my pregnancy and that Abdoulaye needs to eat healthy food to develop. The only food we can afford is rice and couscous.”

Helping kids survive

It is time for Abdoulaye’s consultation. Cheikh Sadibou examines him carefully. At sixteen months old, Abdoulaye weighs just 6.2kg. This is nearly 3.5kg less than a healthy child of the same age here in the UK. 

Cheikh Sadibou confirms Aminata’s fears and diagnoses Abdoulaye with malnutrition - a condition that can be life-threatening if left untreated. He explains that with treatment, Abdoulaye can regain his health. 

He provides Aminata with ready-to-use therapeutic food - a fortified peanut butter stuffed with milk and vitamins - and shows her how she can administer the medicine at her home. She will have to come back to the health post once a week for follow-up treatment until Abdoulaye has regained his strength. 

Aminata will also receive health and nutrition training at the health post so that she can spot the early signs of malnutrition and provide her family with a healthy diet. 

“All I want is for Abdoulaye to be healthy again,” Aminata says. “I want him and my unborn child to grow up strong and healthy so they can have a bright future.”

Action Against Hunger health worker Yacine Sarr and Aminata feed Abdoulaye with ready-use-therapeutic food during his appetite test to determine whether he can receive treatment at home.


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Help save lives in Senegal & around the world

*Name changed.

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