Sita with a healthy-looking Nischita
Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout South and Southeast Asia. On May 10th he visited the NYOF Nutritional Rehabilitation Home in Kathmandu. His “Postcard” from the visit:
The approach to treating severe malnutrition that NYOF and its implementing partners have developed is truly impressive. When they started off in 1998 Som, NYOF’s Executive Director in Kathmandu, says they weren’t aware of a “manual from anywhere in the world” on how to treat these children. All their methods they developed themselves over time. They now have a manual of their own that they use to train staff in the new Nutritional Homes they’ve been starting—with government support—all over Nepal.
Children and their mothers are referred to the facility by local hospitals, unable themselves to provide anything but a bit of emergency care. Outside of fortified milk, the children are fed only foods available anywhere in Nepal. These children, according to Sunita of NYOF’s partner Friends of Needy Children, are not malnourished for lack of food but from ignorance: The mothers are feeding their children only white rice three times a day, or overcooked or fried foods lacking the nutritional value that kids need. So the mothers get trainings while their children recover—in what foods children need, how to prepare them, when to feed their children, how to grow certain foods.
The children are typically discharged at a healthy weight in just 35 days. What’s more impressive is mother and child are sent home with only the training she has received and one bag of flour, and there is a less than 8% relapse rate, according to Sunita. The easy answer might be to provide on-going food assistance, which would be costly and not solve the root cause of the problem. NYOF’s approach seems significantly more sustainable.
One of the mothers, Sita, was bouncing a healthy-looking, eight-month old Nischita on her knee. I asked her what she learned: Sita said she knew now that things like banana and egg yolks did not in fact cause colds in children. She also learned about hygiene and how to prepare nutritional foods, like jowolo. She said she will now feed Nischita five times per day. There are other children in her community who are malnourished and she said she would definitely share what she’s learned with their mothers. She said it would be easy for her since she is a teacher. Shree, another mother, gave a similar response saying she’d learned about optimal feeding times and how to prepare vegetables and a special type of flour.
I think this is a great project. I’m proud that GlobalGiving donors are supporting it. It seems an approach deserving of spreading throughout Nepal and beyond.
The Nutritional Rehabilitation Home in Kathmandu
Nurses preparing medicines for a new arrival