How Volunteers are Helping to Reduce Child Malnutrition in Southern Yemen

 

International Rescue Committee

About International Rescue Committee

 

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. At work in over 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities to restore safety, dignity and hope, the IRC leads the way from harm to home.

 

By Ruth Fertig and Lauren Fuller

 

Ruth Fertig is online community builder and Lauren Fuller is associate digital producer at the International Rescue Committee.
Last week our colleague, Rebecca Blum, reported on the revitalization of the Aden Sora Clinic in southern Yemen, which through a joint effort by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Yemen’s Ministry of Public Health and Population is helping to combat rampant malnutrition, especially among children. Now, when children come to the clinic for a checkup, they are weighed, measured and examined for malnutrition and, more importantly, immediately treated with nutritional supplements and medicine when necessary. It’s amazing how far this simple treatment goes towards addressing an all-too-common problem.
Basic health care is available to more than 100,000 people in the area through the clinic, but they can’t take advantage of its services if they don’t know it exists. To spread the word, the IRC has trained 24 community health volunteers to visit the most overcrowded areas of Aden to educate the neediest about the clinic’s increased services and share important health and hygiene messages. The volunteers are drawn from the same communities they serve, which increases comfort and trust.
Rebecca recently was able to witness the impact of community outreach first-hand when she accompanied a volunteer on a visit to a school that has become a refuge for families who have fled their homes due to ongoing conflict in Yemen. Many of the families have been living there for months.
Child Malnutrition

A mother arrived with her one year old child at the Aden Sora clinic after speaking with a community health volunteer. The child was diagnosed with and treated for malnutrition. Photo: Rebecca Blum/IRC.

The volunteer approached a young mother whose one-year-old was so weak with hunger she could barely lift her head. She encouraged the mother to visit the clinic, now open all week. Just an hour later, about the same time Rebecca returned to the clinic, the mother arrived with her child. A doctor and nurse at the nutrition center gave her a full checkup, confirmed that the baby was malnourished and immediately started her on Plumpy’nut, a therapeutic food used to treat severe malnutrition. After receiving a supply of Plumpy’nut to take home, the mother and little girl were on their way, after promising to return for follow-up visits.
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