Madame Seck, midwife and reproductive health counsellor at the health centre in Matam, Senegal

"We can tackle malnutrition head on"

Meet Madame Seck, a midwife and counsellor at the health centre in Matam, Senegal.

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.


For Madame Seck, being a midwife is a calling. Together with other midwives in Matam, an arid region in north-eastern Senegal, she has dedicated her professional life to breaking the vicious intergenerational circle of life-threatening malnutrition.

“Early pregnancies are a challenge here in Matam,” she says. “Many girls marry when they are still very young. Often, they drop out of school when they become pregnant. The younger a girl is when she becomes pregnant, the greater the risks to her and her baby’s health. From April to June, 3 in 4 mums giving birth to low-weight children in Matam were under 24 years old. This is why adolescent girls need special care and support.”

Madame Seck supports mums-to-be and young mothers during and after their pregnancies so that they and their children can be healthy. She advises them to see her for their monthly check-ups, provides them with advice on how to diversify their diets and encourages them to breastfeed exclusively. She also works closely with youth peer educators to inform teenagers about family planning and confidential services on nutrition and health.

“A few weeks ago, a 15-year-old girl came to see me. She was seven months pregnant. She did not know anything about birth control or reproductive health. She was not aware of the risks of getting pregnant and she told me that she was considering an abortion. She was scared of her parents’ reaction. I persuaded her to keep the child and together we talked to her parents. The girl gave birth to a healthy baby. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to support a mum through pregnancy and see her deliver a healthy baby.”

Madame Seck, centre right, provides mums at the health centre in Matam, Senegal, with nutrition advice and reproductive health counselling

Madame Seck with mums at the health centre in Matam.

“We must work across the health, community and education sectors to provide information and support to adolescents so that they can learn about reproductive health and good nutrition. By empowering them to make their own decisions on when and how many children they have, and providing them with the information they need to look after themselves during pregnancy, we can tackle malnutrition head on.”


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