Fighting malnutrition amongst young children in South Sudan
Millions of men, women and children in East Africa are on the brink of famine and starvation. Drought and civil war have taken the region to the point of catastrophe.
South Sudan is in its fourth year of a brutal civil war that has uprooted millions from their homes. The violence has prevented families from planting their crops for three planting seasons, leaving them with nothing to harvest.
At the same time, the cost of basic food staples has skyrocketed while the value of the South Sudanese pound has plummeted. The fighting has also left some areas completely inaccessible to humanitarian organisations to deliver life-saving relief.
International Medical Corps is working with funding from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) to provide emergency assistance for refugees and conflict affected and displaced populations in South Sudan.
Monday Noah did not have an easy start in life – his mother was nine months pregnant when she fled the violence in their home in Wau Shilluk. Little Monday was born mere days after he arrived at the Protection of Civilians Centre in Malakal.
The struggle didn’t end there. At only 18 months, Monday’s mother brought him to the nutrition centre run by International Medical Corps in Malakal - Monday was suffering from life-threatening diarrhoea.
Recurrent conflict and subsequent displacement of people has led to loss of livelihoods for countless of families like Mondays – rendering parents unable to access fresh food and provide adequate nutrition for their children. Many areas in South Sudan are now experiencing famine and severe malnutrition, putting millions more people at risk.
Monday is one of hundreds of children being treated at International Medical Corps’ nutrition centres in Malakal. The infant was quickly provided with the appropriate treatment and his condition soon started to improve.
Monday’s mother is now an active participant in the Infant and Young Children Feeding programmes run in the centre.
“I was so happy with the support we received,” she says. “Due to the lessons I got from the centre, I now have the knowledge to keep my son healthy.”
Monday’s mother now mobilises other nursing mothers and pregnant women for mother support group sessions, where women can learn about the benefits of exclusive breast-feeding and the importance of follow up visits after pregnancy.
Asura Daffaallah was born in Gendrassa refugee camp, in South Sudan, the youngest of eleven children. Born weighing only 1.2kg at birth, Asura’s weight continued to deteriorate.
“She was not able to breastfeed,” her mother recalls. “She was crying all the time.”
Asura’s mother was losing hope when she was advised to visit the health and nutrition centres run by International Medical Corps in the camp. There she learned about ways to improve breastfeeding practices and keep her daughter warm - all the more important for children born with a low weight.
Asura soon started gaining weight.
“My husband was able to stay home with our other ten children and he was very supportive. I was able to use all the advice I received,” Asura’s mother adds, bouncing her youngest daughter on her lap, looking healthy and no longer at risk of succumbing to malnutrition that has claimed the lives of so many children in South Sudan.
“International Medical Corps continued working with us and following up – we are very grateful for this support.
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