Even before Corona became a global pandemic threatening the health and well-being of many children in Kenya, children under 5 years of age were still suffering from malnutrition and wasting. This raised them at higher risk of malnutrition related ailments. For children who survive, wasting adversely affects children’s body growth, brain development, and school performance in their school life. Malnourished children are at risk during this pandemic, as they are at risk because of potential disruptions in the nutritional services that keep them alive. Under-nutrition makes them more susceptible to infection. And finally, they are more vulnerable because they rely on parents for daily feeding, care and support. If caregivers are sick, quarantined or unable to secure nutritious and safe food and drinking water, children will suffer. Therefore, as COVID-19 pandemic continue to strike in our country, a high burden of humanitarian crisis is on the brink and it is critical to include malnourished children in the list of vulnerable groups to COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic also risks becoming a nutrition crisis, as overburdened healthcare systems, disrupted food systems and income loss for parents, prevent children and women from accessing nutritious diets and essential nutrition services, including those for the early detection and treatment of child wasting.
Aligned with this analysis, Macheo continues to offer nutritional support for identified children. We are committed to respond to the immediate and medium-term needs, to prevent malnourishment and to treat the child.
What we are doing differently
• We have intensified our intervention to protect, promote and support optimal breastfeeding, age-appropriate complementary foods and feeding for infants and young children, and related maternal nutrition, using all opportunities to include key messages on COVID-19, symptoms, hygiene practices, infection prevention and control measures.
• We are providing safety measures for the current nutrition intervention to reduce potential of infection in malnourished children, their caretakers and our staff by handwashing with soap, physical distancing and intensive messaging and communication to the community.
• We have intensified efforts to strengthen the capacity of mothers and caregivers to detect and monitor their children’s nutritional status, using low-literacy/numeracy tools including mid-upper arm circumference.
• Providing cash transfers and nutrition supplements to mitigate plans across food, health, and social protection systems to protect and promote nutritious, safe, affordable and sustainable diets that support adequate nutrition for vulnerable families. We are doing this to prevent food insecurity among infants, young children and mothers from families and communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fatuma* is an eight month old only child, who lives with her parents Aisha* and Kariuki* in Makongeni. Her mother is a housewife while her father is a mechanic. She was referred to the Macheo service provider because she was very weak. After an assessment, she weighed only 5.5 kgs (12lbs) and suffered from delayed development, which meant that at her age, she was unable to sit, had a poor appetite, and was quite inactive. Her mother couldn’t help but worry about her daughter's condition. She also lacked information on proper nutrition.
Through a Macheo intervention, Aisha was equipped with proper knowledge on the diet to give Fatuma. The child was also taken to the hospital for further investigation where she was diagnosed with low calcium and rickets hence her static growth. She was put on medication, supplements, and nutritious feeding. Aisha* then followed the doctor’s advice and within a short period, her daughter was able to sit and she became very active. If Fatuma* stayed any longer without being brought to our attention, she would have probably developed permanent developmental disabilities. Fatuma now has a brighter future because of your support.
We thank you for allowing us to be able to impact the life of a child in this way.