A story of malnutrition in a remote community in Macossa

Funded by the Government of Ireland, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Irish Aid), the mobile health brigades are one of the programmes that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is supporting the Government of Mozambique to reach the most vulnerable communities affected by the drought emergency. Up to June 2017, 369,042 children were screened for acute malnutrition and 23,631 severely acute malnourished (SAM) children were treated by UNICEF supported Ministry of Health trained mobile brigades and Management of Acute Malnutrition Program.

Claudio Fauvrelle
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A story of malnutrition in a remote community in Macossa
Jenida Fenissi, a 20-year-old mother, and her 2-year-old son Xatala Mariamo who had been previously identified with severe acute malnutrition. © UNICEF Moçambique/2017/Isabel Periquito

Manica - Chingunhene is a small remote community in Macossa district. It is characterized for its arid climate, prone to droughts, poor soil for agriculture and lack of water. There is no borehole in the community, and people rely on small lakes and many times stagnant water to drink. Agriculture production is very low and limited, with very few vegetables being produced and almost no fruit available. During a recent mobile brigade activity in Macossa, only bananas were available. Banana in the local language is called zarapera (that means kill the hunger). There are no public transports in the area and people rely on bicycle taxi, but it’s very expensive as a trip to the nearest health centre can cost up to 500 meticais (about 8 USD).

The mobile brigade, an outreach team to treat children with acute malnutrition, provided its integrated activities, which included, nutrition, immunization, HIV and general consultations to Chingunhene on the 17 August 2017. The mobile brigade departure from Macossa hospital at 6:30AM and arrived in Chingunhene at 10AM, they had to drive more than 100 kilometres. The community mobilization was done by the community leader and some people were already waiting when the mobile brigade arrived at the local school, its premises were used to conduct the activities. Right after the car arrived and the health staff started preparing to start their activities, more people slowly joined with the community massively adhering to the activity.

The mobile brigade, an outreach team to treat children with acute malnutrition, provided its integrated activities, which included, nutrition, immunization, HIV and general consultations.

Jenida Fenissi, a 20-year-old mother, and her two (2) little children were latecomers. Jenida is one of the four (4) wives Almando Mariano has. He is 33-year-old, and father to fifteen (15) children. Like most members of this community, they are both working in agriculture, in their machambas (small family agriculture plot). Jenida and Almando have in common 2 children, Xatala Mariamo, a boy of 2 years of age, and a baby girl of 3 months (no name yet). According to Almando all his children have been born at home and never been to the hospital, and all his children are healthy. Xatala is the exception, and have been having some health issues previously. When asked why they brought their children to see the mobile brigade team, the father, promptly replied: “the children have to be vaccinated”.

Pascoa, the district nutritionist, mentioned that Xatala has been previously identified with severe acute malnutrition (SAM). Pascoa reckons that happened around May of 2017 and at that time, the child was in a very bad condition, and literally taken from the ‘hands’ of the local traditional healer that was allegedly curing the child. Xatala was treated at the community then. “Due to the long distance to the health centre, it is not easy to do the management of the situation and to properly follow up,” said Pascoa the nutritionist, “probably this is the key reason for him to be again with malnutrition.”

Xatala was as routinely assessed during the mobile brigade activities, weighted, taken his height and had his Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) measured to make the nutritional evaluation. According to the nutritionist, he was now with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM). Xatala was a restless child, often crying and needing lots of the attention of his mother, which was not enough, due to the little baby she was also carrying. Pascoa tried to calm him down and that was not an easy task, a piece of banaba zarapera that one of the team members had was the only thing that helps him to calm down.

The nutritionist asked both Jenida and Almando to listen to her recommendations and how to proceed with the treatment that Xatala needed. They were given treatment for the next two (2) weeks and Pascoa highlighted the need to take Xatala for a control after these 2 weeks in the Nhamagua heath centre, that is located 50 kilometres away from Chingunhene. She also called the Community Health Worker (APE) working in this community to closely follow up the case and make home visits to the family. The parents were really thankful for the mobile brigade team and their work in their community and for helping their son once again. Almando, at the end of the activities, approached the mobile brigade team and said “Maitabassa (thank you in the local language)! With the mobile brigade work, we can have our children healthier”.

Funded by the Government of Ireland, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Irish Aid), the mobile health brigades are one of the programmes that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is supporting the Government of Mozambique to reach the most vulnerable communities affected by the drought emergency. Up to June 2017, 369,042 children were screened for acute malnutrition and 23,631 severely acute malnourished (SAM) children were treated by UNICEF supported Ministry of Health trained mobile brigades and Management of Acute Malnutrition Program.






For more information, please contact:

Claudio Fauvrelle
Tel +258 21 481 100
email: cfauvrelle@unicef.org

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