Save The Children Expands Nutrition Project to 7 More Districts

SAVE the Children Zimbabwe has extended its nutrition project to seven more districts amidst indications that they intend to reach at least 231,168 with active screening for acute malnutrition and ensure early detection and treatment of acute malnutrition.

By Michael Gwarisa

The increase in the coverage area brings the total number of districts under the Save the children nutrition program to 12.

In an interview with HealthTimes, Save the Children Zimbabwe Nutrition manager Tendai Gunda said they had taken the nutrition program to these seven new districts to make them 12 and will be covering most parts of Mashonaland Central with the exception of Rushinga.

“We expanding to another seven district to make them 12 and we will be covering most of Mashonaland central with the exception of Rushinga. We also expanding to Gokwe North and Gokwe South.

“Following these achievements in the current intervention, there was a need to sustain the project and the gains made, while filling gaps identified during the project implementation. For example, it has been noted that there are no treatment interventions for Moderately Acute malnourished children ( MAM ) who are easily deteriorating into severe acute malnutrition,” said Gunda.

The seven new districts under the Save the Children nutrition program are Mt. Darwin, Mazowe, Centenary, Kwekwe, Gokwe North, Gokwe South, Mbire. Gunda said there was need to ensure that children are protected from malnutrition and those found with malnutrition are treated quickly to prevent their death.

The growth in their coverage area also follows the success of their integrated health, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Nutrition and child protection projects which they are carrying around country to date.

She added that prevalence of acute malnutrition was higher amongst boys than girls. In addition other districts also had a burden of acute malnutrition that needed to be addressed especially as the country moved into the peak hunger period.

“It was expected that without any intervention, districts that were not previously in an emergency situation but at the border of emergency in June 2017, were likely to migrate into an emergency situations during the peak hunger period that occurs between January and March every year.

“This is the period when grain stocks harvested the previous season start to run out and people are forced to limit their food intake to stretch their stocks for longer,” she said.

Meanwhile, Save the Children seeks to support the treatment of at least 11192 malnourished children through this exercise.

“Cooking demonstrations and infant and young child feeding counselling activities will be implemented to ensure that even despite difficult circumstances, children are still fed with at least a 4 star diet. Save the children hopes to reach at least 12,500 caregivers with infant and young child feeding support.”

During 2017, Save the Children through their support to the Ministry of Health with funding from UNICEF /DFID, screened 77,109 (44063 girls and 33046 boys) children  for acute malnutrition, 2,430 (972 girls and 1458 boys) who were found to be malnourished were admitted into health facilities for treatment.

“The children received quality treatment because Save the Children also invested in building the capacity of health workers to deliver quality health and nutrition care. To ensure that children did not relapse; Save the Children also invested in preventive nutrition services through building the capacity of 1004 village health workers to counsel and support mothers on issues to do with infant and young child feeding in the community.

“These VHW’s reached 54,238 caregivers on integrated health , WASH, nutrition, HIV and Child protection messages.”

Following these achievements in the current intervention, Save the Children says there was a  need to sustain the project and the gains made, while filling gaps identified during the project implementation.

“For example, it has been noted that there are no treatment interventions for Moderately Acute malnourished children ( MAM ) who are easily deteriorating into severe acute malnutrition. In addition, prevalence of acute malnutrition was higher amongst boys than girls. In addition other districts also had a burden of acute malnutrition that needed to be addressed especially as the country moved into the peak hunger period.

“It was expected that without any intervention, districts that were not previously in an emergency situation but at the border of emergency in June 2017, were likely to migrate into an emergency situation during the peak hunger period that occurs between January and March  every year.  (this is the period when grain stocks harvested the previous season start to run out and people are forced to limit their food intake to stretch their stocks for longer).”

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