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Mercy Corps steps up to help severely malnourished children and pregnant women in Damboa

30 November 2022
Reading time: 4 minutes

Mercy Corps has stepped up to help severely malnourished children and pregnant women in the Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State, providing nutritional support, medicines and other healthcare services.

The international non-governmental organisation (iNGO) has provided nutritional and healthcare support to many communities in northeastern Nigeria.

One of the beneficiaries, a pregnant woman in Damboa, applauded the efforts of Mercy Corps for coming to her aid saying it was providing a lifesaving intervention.

Karu Modu told RNI that she was very grateful to Almighty Allah and Mercy Corps for providing nutritional support, medicines and other healthcare services.

“They give us fruits and vegetables, medicines and other healthcare. What Mercy Corps has done for me is a lifesaving intervention because, as a pregnant woman, whenever I go to hospital for a check-up, the doctors always tell me that I’m suffering from famine, malnutrition and a lack of blood which is affecting my unborn baby and my health.

“The medical doctors always advise me to eat nutritious meals and fruits, such as oranges, apple and eggs, among others. I would like to stick to their medical tips and nutritional advice but the problem is I can’t afford to buy these nutritious foods and fruits that are rich in protein and carbohydrates.”

Modu said Mercy Corps had stepped up to help provide not only pregnant women but also their young children.

“They give us the needed nutritional support and supplements. They have even given us varieties of seeds so that we can plant other leafy vegetables in our gardens, giving us easy access to nutritional food. They told us we should use the leaves to cook nutritious food that is rich in carbohydrates and that will be beneficial for our own health and that of our unborn babies. It will also provide good nutrition for our other children.”

She said Mercy Corps provided nutritional supplements, such as Tamuwa – RUFT or Plumpy nut – for malnourished children. “We are so grateful.”

Mery Corps said that according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), many communities in northeastern Nigeria continued to face various levels of humanitarian crises because of the 13-year insurgency. The increasing levels of insecurity had forced millions of families to flee their homes, often leaving the most vulnerable behind, including the elderly, women and children.

These conflict-affected households, often in hard-to-reach areas, mainly had little to no food stocks and accessed food through wild foods. They also faced limited market access and had no purchasing power. Damboa, in Borno state, was one of the most affected, cut off from major roads and food supplies, with families having to depend heavily on humanitarian assistance.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that almost half of all deaths of children under five — a total of around three million worldwide — were linked to undernutrition.

“Undernutrition can take several forms of which acute malnutrition, characterised by rapid weight loss and also known as wasting, is the most prevalent one. In essence it means a person is not getting enough food; or not getting the right types of food, meaning that they are missing out on essential nutrients, such as protein or iron, or they are unable to properly absorb the nutrients they need because of sicknesses, such as diarrhoea,” it said.

One of the simplest measures in battling malnutrition was to eat ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), popularly known as Tamuwa in Hausa, which is an energy-dense, mineral- and vitamin-enriched food that required no preparation and was specifically designed to treat severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that RUTF had a similar nutrient composition to F-100 therapeutic milk, which was used to treat SAM in hospitals. RUTF is soft and can be consumed easily by children from the age of six months. Because RUTF is not water-based, bacteria could not grow in it and it could be used safely at home without refrigeration and in areas where hygiene conditions were not optimal.

The agency had been procuring almost 80% of the world’s RUFT, which is made from powdered milk, peanuts, butter, vegetable oil, sugar and a mix of vitamins and minerals.

It has high nutritional value, allowing malnourished children to gain weight quickly; a two-year shelf life; an appealing taste and easy digestibility; it did not have to be prepared – children could eat it directly from the packet.



About the author

Mbodou Hassane Moussa

Journaliste de formation et de profession. Passionné par l'écriture, le digital et les médias sociaux, ces derniers n'ont aucun secret pour lui. Il a embrassé très tôt l'univers des médias et de la Communication. Titulaire d'une Licence en journalisme et d'un Master en Management des projets, Mbodou Hassan Moussa est éditeur Web du journal en ligne Toumaï Web Médias. Aujourd'hui, il est devenu Webmaster à la Radio Ndarason internationale et collabore à la réalisation du journal en langue française et dialecte Kanembou.