Hunger kills more people worldwide than HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, and children are the most vulnerable. Malnutrition and hunger-related diseases account for 35 percent (3.1 million) of the 8.8 million deaths of children younger than five each year. Malnutrition is a complex problem that can be caused by a lack of adequate food, illness, and poor caring practices – but it is preventable and curable.
International Medical Corps runs nutrition and food security programmes in some of the world’s most food-stressed areas, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Chad, and Sudan. Our nutrition programmes have a 90 percent success rate, meaning that almost all the malnourished children who come through our programmes recover.
Recognising that malnutrition is not just an issue about food, we address nutrition at every contact point we have with community members from water and sanitation projects, screening during primary health care visits, and provision of therapeutic nutrition care. We work with all levels of government, civil society, and parents to improve their ability to provide the range of activities needed to promote healthy growth and prevent malnutrition in children.
International Medical Corps malnutrition prevention programmes include promotion of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life; infant and young child feeding; maternal nutrition; nutrition education; food security programmes that promote food diversity; micronutrient supplementation; the addition of supplemental food during hunger periods; and water, sanitation & hygiene interventions to prevent diarrheal disease and the malnutrition that can result.
To reinforce nutrition messages and create behaviour change in the community, International Medical Corps works with local communities to develop Mother Care Groups. These Groups are led by local female volunteers trained by International Medical Corps that meet on a regular basis with mothers and their young children to:
In addition, most of the decision-making regarding critical influential behaviours occurs in the home. Thus, International Medical Corps targets health facilities, community leaders, households and individuals to bring positive and lasting changes in attitudes, knowledge and behaviours
International Medical Corps’ food security programmes focus on empowering communities and especially women to provide nutritious foods for their families. Our work includes:
International Medical Corps is implementing an emergency nutrition programme in the Sool and Sanaag regions of Somaliland to mitigate the effects of drought and improve the nutritional status of children under the age of five.
In the Dolo Ado refugee camps, Ethiopia, we are working with the Ethiopian Government’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) to scale up supplementary feeding services for malnourished people, including the provision of nutrient-dense therapeutic foods.
International Medical Corps teams also constructed 136 latrines/washrooms with 200 more planned and have launched a hygiene campaign to thwart the spread of communicable disease in the overcrowded camps.
Similar nutrition and maternal health services are being provided in Kambioos refugee camp, Kenya, a part of the Dadaab Complex which is today the largest refugee camp in the world
The campaign also directly targeted families at risk of multi-generational ill health to bring about sustainable changes in behaviour that will reduce their chances of developing chronic diseases.Families with one member already diagnosed with diabetes or high blood pressure were invited on weekend camps to learn and experience healthy lifestyles, promoting improved diets through cookery lessons, joint exercise programmes, supporting smoking cessation and helping all family members understand the risks of chronic diseases.
International Medical Corps’ nutrition programming in this region is integrated into the primary health care system, allowing early detection of malnutrition and referrals to the appropriate program. Traditional Birth Attendants have been trained to provide nutrition education sessions for pregnant and lactating women since early nutrition interventions can often provide the tools to prevent malnutrition.