The first one thousand days is a very important stage for fighting chronic malnutrition. During this window much of a child’s development occurs (the development of the brain and major organ systems). Subsequently this window of development is closed, and not much can be done to reverse the results to growth and development that has occurred. Children at this stage who are chronically malnourished hit developmental milestones far behind their non-stunted peers, score lower on verbal reasoning and are more prone to infectious disease. This window during infancy, this infamous “thousand days”, is very small. So small and so fragile, in fact, that many members of the global health community consider it the do or break period for a child.
Because of your continued support, children like Valerie are spared these serious stunted developmental results. MacheoUS is very grateful for your kind consideration to our cause.
Anne Thompson and the Macheo team
From the Field...
How your support transformed Valarie's life.
Valerie* is the last born in a family of 3 children. Her father is a casual labourer that does odd jobs to feed his family while her mother has a small embroidery business. We met Valarie during the Covid 19 pandemic period when casual jobs were inaccessible and her mother's business had vastly deteriorated. During the assessment, Valerie was 18 months old weighing 39 pounds her height was 2' 6" with moderate acute malnutrition.Valerie's parents would barely afford food for their household. Her mother, June*, had no knowledge of nutrition and was discouraged to see her daughter unhealthy.
At first sight, Valerie was very irritable and would cry a lot. She had no appetite and would eat little to no food. She was taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with malnutrition. Her parents first received a cash transfer from Macheo that enabled them to purchase all the dietary supplements required, as well as food for their household. June also received nutrition education to help her better care for Valerie and her siblings. She ensured that Valarie started eating healthy nutritious food as well as taking her dietary supplements. Valarie began to recover as continuous follow-ups and home visits were done.
Valerie has fully recovered and is feeding well. She loves to play with her siblings and enjoys walking around her compound with her neighbouring friends. Through the cash transfer, June was able to restore the embroidery business that is helping her to care for her family’s needs. Her husband also helps out with family expenses as he is no longer in lack of casual jobs. They are grateful for the support they received through Macheo especially seeing their daughter Valerie happy and healthy. Valerie has hope for a better future because of your support.
COVID-19 pandemic has deteriorated key determinants of health and caused major upheavals around the world. In Kenya, children, although less directly affected by the virus, are paying a heavy price through the indirect effects of the crisis, including poor diet, mental health impact, social isolation and health care, particularly among vulnerable groups.
At Macheo, we have continued to offer nutritional support for identified children. We are committed to respond to the immediate and medium-term needs.
What Macheo is doing differently
We are ensuring key preventive and curative nutrition actions to respond to the high numbers of malnutrition. We have adopted a holistic approach to nutrition that is addressing both curative and preventive actions to children and their parents.
• Increase linkage to other sectorial measures such as food security, and social protection, encouraging safe modalities such as cash transfers for those vulnerable households that are facing increasing food insecurity. We are also providing school feeding with nutritional meals to children in public primary schools.
• Adopt innovative solutions, such as remote training on nutrition, counselling and monitoring, to enhance access to quality nutrition care, particularly for those harder to reach.
One Success Story
Rain is the only child of a teenage mother. She was identified by a Macheo area social worker.
During the time of identification she was 9 months old, malnourished and unable to sit upright let alone crawl. She lived with her mother and grandmother who depended on casual jobs for income. After assessment she was found to be moderately malnourished. Rain also had a history of recurrent infections and was taken to a physician who diagnosed her with low calcium and low blood levels.
We then made sure Rain was given all the medicine that was prescribed. Rain's mother started to get nutrition education and diet counseling to properly feed herself and her daughter. Continuous follow ups, home visits and seminars were also done to keep up with Rain's progress, as she was still on medication and vitamins, including deworming.
Today, Rain has gained weight and recovered fully from calcium and iron deficiencies. She is now very active, joyful and playful. Her family are thankful to Macheo for the support they received.
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.
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