comprehend hunger through imagery

Posts tagged “nutrition

Clémence’s soft toy

 

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picture:  www.sambronx-photo.com

Clémence is holding onto her soft toy Dalmatian Puppy, her mother gave her for Christmas. Children all over the world hold on to their cuddly toys for comfort in unfamiliar places. Clémence is no different.

 

I meet her and her mother, Anita, in the intensive nutrition unit of the pediatric hospital in Bangui, the Central African Republic. 29,250 children under 5 years suffering from acute malnutrition are admitted for therapeutic care. The principal referral centre of the capital is crowded with children that have fallen ill with the most severe and deadly form of malnutrition. There is little noise from these children: too ill to play, too weak to express discomfort.

 

At two and a half years old and 5.5 kg, Clémence is barely above the weight of a new born baby. I learned how she came here as her mother, Anita, props her up in her lap. A few weeks back she was a strong and joyful little child playing in the streets near her home. All changed when she caught malaria and lost appetite fighting the fever. Weakened by illness, she developed diarrhea and quickly lost weight to the point that her parents got very worried and brought her into the hospital, where they learned their child was suffering from severe malnutrition.

 

Severe malnutrition is one of the greatest challenges to child survival in the world today. Affecting 16 million children worldwide and responsible for up to two million child deaths each year, it is the most lethal form of malnutrition.

 

Clémence is clinging onto her Dalmatian toy when the nurse tries to move it to take the temperature. Her breathing is very quick and she seems to drift in and out of sleep. She is unable to move her head up and look around. Having worked with ACF for many years, the intensive nutrition units are the hardest, saddest places to visit. No child should ever fall ill with Severe malnutrition.  It is the epitome of an unjust world: a place that produces more food that it can eat and has the knowledge to treat infections these children can no longer fight.

 

However, nutrition units are also places of hope. Last year 87% of children brought to our nutrition clinics in CAR recovered and returned home. ACF cured more than three million children around the world last year alone. Effective community treatment, equipped with products like therapeutic foods, reach children living in the most marginalised and conflict ridden areas of the world. Where the illness is extremely severe and complicated by infection as it was with Clémence, inpatient treatment with the supervision of ACF doctors and nurses around the clock is the only option. CAR has experienced high levels of violence that have devastated its health system and increased poverty, so only few referral centres are available.

 

Talking to Anita, a law student, she was hopeful that the treatment was working and there were  some signs that her child was getting better. Trying to feed her was not easy, as Clémence was spilling much of the therapeutic milk and having difficulties even swallowing. Feeding ill children is a painfully slow and delicate process as any parents know. Here it is an act of desperation to save a child.  My presence was not helping as Clémence was distracted. I left the hospital where Anita was hopeful that her daughter would gain weight and get back her appetite so they could return home. I felt hopeful that Clémence’s mother was right.

 

Arriving back in the UK I had some horrible, sad news from Central African Republic. Clémence died from severe malnutrition only days after I left her bedside. Her mum was doing her best. In a country that has high rates of illness, only few health care workers are at hand to help her to detect the early signs of malnutrition and get treatment. This Mother couldn’t prevent her baby from getting regular bouts of malaria or the diarrhea that followed and weakened her little girl, and led to the severe malnutrition. She is one case in about 700 malnutrition-related deaths per year in CAR.

 

We do save lives in our projects every day. Sadly we failed Clémence. Despite our best effort, too many children still do not make it through severe malnutrition. In 2015 Action Against Hunger treated 1,560,000 children: more than any previous year. We have to do even more. Anita, her story and pictures serve me as a reminder to raise awareness of the unspeakable injustices of malnutrition so many children in CAR and worldwide, battle with day in day out.

 

Action Against Hunger are part of a massive scale up and work with communities, donors and doctors to find children long before they are severely malnourished, to expand treatment into many more health centers in order for malnourished children to stand the best chance to be cured. Referral centers such as at the Bangui paediatric hospital partner with us to deal with overwhelming numbers of malnourished children.

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Dignity a necessity for Developing

 

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World Children Day

Today it is World Children Day lets give them what they most deserve dignity!

Behind each growing up child stands a loving mother, parents and the broader community, to give them the means to succeed.

Often I hear development for good change is about boosting agricultural technology, maximising value chain beyond the farm gate, better cash or food yields, etc. While I do not doubt any of these development focuses, first of all it is about sharing dignity throughout society. This must start with the weakest in society children.

This mother in Malawi told me how she has to struggle to manage her triple tasks: working on one of the large commercial tobacco farms for cash, tending to her plot of land for food and looking after her children’s needs.

Much of the commercial farmers produce nonfood items or maize destined for expert and getting foreign currency into its economy. This mother is no exception paid poorly the cash she earns is mostly drained for expenses such as transport, housing, schooling, health, and food. What she pays for full-time agrarian about is not nearly sufficent to feed the family. She as many smallholders has to cultivate on steep hillsides and other marginal lands, often with inadequate soil and water conservation, to substitute her purchased food from the mear day labor.

When her little boy fell ill with diarrhea, she had to make the impossible desition to drop either her wage labor or neglect her plot or both to tend her child and bring him to hospital. What should be the happy end to a worrying childhood disease quick moves on to the next concern, now she has missed a day at the commercial farm; her boss might have fired her meaning she lost her income.

Investing in peoples lives not merely a functioning of economic outcomes that results in growing exports and fancier technologies, but most of all must change the balance of social justice, hegemony and leading to dignity for all. No child should grow up in a household and community that is exploited to the great good of a few pushing the dignity of many in to second place

While choices in the political world are painted in shades of grey, the consequences of those decisions are often irreversibly black and white: the joy of a healthy childhood and family or the violence of poverty and hunger. Conceiving of and the implementing mechanisms to transfer control over peoples lives from the powerful actors to the families themselves is no small goal: above the technical obstacles, voluntary giving away dominance is not something that human beings do well. Development, defined as “good change (Robert Chambers)” must strive for nothing less than a real will for justice accessible at all levels even where it is in direct conflicts with the will to power and the few that hold this power.


Yemen – Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18

Saida Ahmad Baghili, who is affected by severe acute malnutrition, sits on a bed at the al-Thawra hospital in the Red Sea port city of Houdieda

Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, who is affected by severe acute malnutrition, sits on a bed at the al-Thawra hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen, on October 24, 2016. Reuters followed Saida’s story after this, and on December 6, reported, “Now, after weeks of specialist hospital care in the capital Sanaa, though she can still barely speak and sometimes finds eating more difficult than ever, she can at least smile.” Nearly two years of war between a Saudi-led Arab coalition and the Iran-allied Houthi movement has deepened the plight of Baghili’s family and millions of other Yemenis. In her parched village on the Red Sea coast, impoverished residents have long struggled to put food on the table. Doctors believe Saida’s condition—which began several years before the war began—has damaged her throat, and when her family first brought her to a regional hospital in October, she could barely keep her eyes open or stand. “We admitted Saida to find out the cause of her inability to eat, and it’s clear that she suffers from severe malnutrition,” Doctor Wasfi al-Zakari of Sanaa’s al-Thawra hospital said. “Her health remains chronic, and her bones remain fragile due to stunted growth. In all likelihood, they will never return to normal,” he said. 

Abduljabbar Zeyad / Reuters

Portraits of South Sudanese Refugees

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A nostalgic look at the crisis in South Sudan by photographer Ugo Borga has spent the last 15 years in Africa, the Middle East and Europe documenting places devastated by war. In March, he traveled to South Sudan to cover the ongoing conflict that’s been plaguing the country since officially declaring its independence from Sudan in 2011. link


My new report: Action to Increase Nutrition

Wondering why you should care about a conference on nutrition? We’ll explain…

On November 19, ministers from 193 countries will meet in Rome for the first time in 22 years to look at ways to tackle malnutrition.

At the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), they’ll be asked to adopt two documents: the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action on Nutrition.

Progress in tackling malnutrition since the first ICN in 1992 has been weak and patchy because of inadequate commitment and leadership, financial constraints, weak human and institutional capacities, the depletion of natural resources exacerbated by climate change, and a lack of appropriate accountability mechanisms.

The good news is that today the world is much wealthier than it was 22 years ago, and the knowledge of what works and what action is needed is far more advanced. As momentum on nutrition builds internationally, this conference presents an historic once-in-a-generation opportunity for strong political commitments that could help end child hunger.

Read more: link

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Fannie ?

In an effort to reach hundreds of thousands of starving and malnourished people in South Sudan, the first air drops by the International Red Cross in nearly two decades took place in Leer on July 5. Thousands of people waited in the hot sun for emergency food supplies and seed. NBC NEWS

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A town destroyed – Leer, South Sudan

Since fighting broke out in mid-December between rival army factions in South Sudan, plunging the new country into widespread conflict pitting communities against one another, thousands, perhaps as many as 30,000 people, have died; 1.5 million have been forced from their homes and around four million require humanitarian assistance, with food insecurity the main concern. Link

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