When a local health post was established in her community, life changed for Namusa Nomoga, a mum of four.

Healthy Kids: "I want my children to move forward in life..."

When a local health post was established in her community, life changed for Namusa Nomoga, a mum of four.

By Christine Kahmann

Jan 13 2017

Namusa Nomoga, a mum of four, grows salad, tomatoes and onions in her little vegetable garden, whilst her husband works as a seasonal farmer. A few months ago, her son, two-year-old Samakoun, suffered from undernutrition, a condition that is life-threatening if left untreated. Today Samakoun is a healthy little boy.

Namusa Nomoga, her son Samakoun and Kindiaba, the community health worker smile as Kindiaba monitors Samakoun’s mid-upper-arm circumference, a simple way to assess whether a child is undernourished. B.Stevens/i-Images for Action Against Hunger

“I noticed that something was wrong with Samakoun when he developed a temperature. He was very hot. He wasn’t able to keep his food down and then he stopped eating altogether. He usually smiles a lot and he likes to play, but suddenly he became very weak.”

“As a mum you worry about your children”

“As a mum, you worry about your children. When they’re sick, your mind cannot be at ease until they are better again.”

Worried about her youngest child, she went to the local health post established by the innocent foundation and Action Against Hunger, a few weeks before her child fell ill.

“I went to see Kindiaba, the local health worker who moved to our village a few months ago. Kindiaba weighed and measured Samakoun, and took his temperature. And then she told me that he was ill with undernutrition and that he needed special treatment. She asked me to feed him Ticadekeni [ready-to-use therapeutic food used to treat undernourished children] and to come back for follow-up treatment once a week. After just a few weeks, Samakoun had recovered. Today Kindiaba still supports us.”

When health care is too far to save children

Namusa Nomoga and Kindiaba measure Samakoun at the local health station. B.Stevens/i-Images for Action Against Hunger

“It used to be very difficult for families here to access health care,” explains Kindiaba Sidibe, the health worker deployed to the village to provide children with access to basic healthcare. “The national health structure exists but at a community level, many people cannot access treatment for their children when they fall ill.”

Together with the innocent foundation, Action Against Hunger is revolutionising the way malnourished children are diagnosed and treated in their communities, paving the way for health workers to reach all malnourished children, no matter where they live.

By empowering community health workers to diagnose and treat children at home, rather than expecting their parents to walk up to 40km to the nearest clinic for treatment, we are tackling undernutrition head on.

“Before Kindiaba arrived, we had to walk for many hours to get to Tambaga [where the closest health post is based] to seek treatment for our children when they were ill,” says Samakoun. “It’s really far and it meant we had to leave children behind for a long time. And even when we managed, it still meant we weren’t able to prepare a meal for our other children and fetch water from the well to water our garden.”

Life-changing results

Kindiaba feeds Samakoun with ready-to-use therapeutic food, a treatment used to nurse malnourished children back to health. B.Stevens/i-Images for Action Against Hunger

The results from the groundbreaking research project promise to revolutionise the fight against child hunger. “After one year of implementation, we’ve found that there is massive engagement with the project within local communities. People have welcomed the health workers and there’s been great demand for their services,” explains Franck Ale, who coordinates the project for Action Against Hunger and the innocent foundation. “We’ve found that there’s been a significant increase in the number of children who are accessing treatment and survive.”

For mothers like Namusa, the project has changed her family’s life already: “I want my children to move forward. My dream is for him to be able to study and do well in life. The arrival of the health team has made a huge difference to our community. Children in the village no longer die from disease. They recover when they’re ill. And I feel more at ease. I’m less worried for my children now.”


When good nutrition transforms lives

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Images:  B.Stevens/i-Images for Action Against Hunger, Mali, 2016

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