Reducing Cases of Childhood Diseases Through Integrated Health and Nutrition Program in Abyei.
Abdu*, 14 months, old was born after only 7 months of pregnancy to a mother of 2. They live in an extended family and face impact of the conflict in Abyei resulting to poverty. This exposed Abdu and the family to the risk of childhood diseases. Access all contents here
Abdu*, 14 months, and his monther Achear, 21, smiling after succeessful treatment for pneumonia, malaria and malnutrition at Save the Children's supported health facility. In November 2023, while Abdu was at home sick, Save the Children community health promoter supported by ECHO project screened Abdu for malnutrition using MUAC and found Abdu’s MUAC reading red which denotes severe acute malnutrition. And without hesitation the Community Health Nutrition Volunteers (CHNV) referred Abdu to Abyei PHCC where he was diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition and co-morbidities such as pneumonia and malaria. He was admitted to stabilisation centre.
On admission Abdu weighed 5.2 at the age of 1 year and 2 months . Abdu had no appetite and has difficulties in breathing. You can hear him breathing with hissing sounds.
Save the Children’s health worker, Nyankiir, 28, treated Abdu.
Save the Children health worker, Nyankiir, 28, treated Abdu*, 14 months. Photo: Ezibon Saadalla/Save the Children
“He had a heavy chest, the breathing was not normal, you can see the worry in the mothers eyes” Says Nyankiir, Save the Children health worker. We stabilized him and took all necessary medical tests, and this made us admit him for 7 days” added the health worker. In the stabilization Centre, the mother was supported with a feeding program, which helps in boosting milk production for the child, and the child was put in a nutrition program and is given milk and plump sup. In the second day Abdu gained his appetite and you can feel the breeze of relief in the voice of the Mother,” said Nyankiir.
Here is what his mother, Achear, 21, said:
“When I brought my son here, he could not breathe, I was scared for my son’s life. The nurses talked to me nicely and encouraged me. Some people told me, my son’s blood is burning due to the high fever. After few hours of medication, my son’s breathing was slightly improving, this gave me hope. When Abdu was still in my stomach, I was not eating well and also had Malaria. This caused me to give birth prematurely. This place has put smiles on every mother who brought her child here”
After Abdu was treated successfully, he was discharge home. His mother was given bars of soap, plump sub and milk for the child. Abdu’s mother also received counselling and messages on appropriate feeding and breastfeeding to mitigate malnutrition. Save the Children staff also do follow-up in order to keep the child healthy.
The Situation of Abyei
Abyei Administrative Area has experienced measles outbreak and high malnutrition rate over the years because of the existing fragile health system overwhelmed by the current conflict in Sudan .The situation is further compounded by constant communal conflict. Save the Children under ECHO project has expanded access to health and nutrition services with the operationalisation of 9 static health facilities and 2 mobile clinics. Between April and Sept this year, a total of 53022 consultations were recorded at the static health facilities while 7,108 under five children and 4104 pregnant women were treated for acute malnutrition. Save the Children in September 2023 introduced Boma Health Initiative (BHI) under ECHO project where three leading childhood morbidities are being treated at home level by Boma Health workers (community health volunteers).
“So far more than 2,000 under five children were treated at home level for pneumonia, malaria and diarrhoea. The introduction of home treatment has significantly contributed to reduction of morbidities as well as good treatment outcome because of early case detection and treatment”. Abdullahi Aden, Program Manager.
What Save the Children is doing
Save the Children is implementing an integrated primary health care and nutrition projection in Abyei Administrative Area with funding from the European Union Humanitarian Aid. The program targets population of about 123,648 people, providing free lifesaving primary healthcare and nutrition integrated with Mental Health Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) and Gender Based Violence (GBV) services. Save the Children is also working to strengthen the capacity of the local health system to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks of common range of endemic diseases. As a result, there is reduced cases of childhood diseases such as diarrhoea, Malaria, cough and Pneumonia according to health officials.
Interview conducted by: Ezibon Saadalla/Save the Children
Story edited by: Kangu Tito Justin/Save the Children