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Gaza: Child Nutrition project update

September 2017

A little girl with her mother at Al Ahli Hospital
A little girl waits with her mother at Al Ahli Hospital. © ABM/
Julianne Stewart, 2017


According to the Al Ahli Hospital, there is an extremely high success rate for health recovery through the Child Nutrition project, supported by ABM.

On a recent visit to our partner ABM Programs Director, Dr Julianne Stewart, met with the children and parents benefiting from the project, and spoke to the hospital Doctors and Nutritionist who are helping to improve the lives of so many.

The hospital Nutritionist, Dr Suad Obaid, happily told of some current success stories she had witnessed.

 In one case, a six month old boy named Abdelrahman presented at the Al Ahli Hospital as “severely wasted”.  His family had lost their home during the 2014 Gaza war, and are now living in an extremely small temporary shelter. His parents have a very low income, and with 9 children to feed, were finding it difficult to make ends meet.

After being admitted to the program, little Abdelrahman improved rapidly, growing from only 6.6 kg and 70cm at six months, to 9.1kg and 75.1cm at nine months. His mother was very happy with the progress in 3 months, seeing her baby improve with each visit to Dr  Obaid. Abdelrahman’s mother also said she had learned many useful things, including new ideas about how to prepare nutritious meals for her whole family.

In another case, Fatema was admitted to the Child Nutrition project when she was 7 months old. She was 5.8kg and severely stunted at 67cm. Her family was very poor, despite Fatema being the only child. They live in one room of her father’s family home at El Sabra, in the Gaza strip.

Most of the income earnt by Fatema's father goes toward the repayment of a loan, taken out to cover his marriage expenses. Fatema’s mother is very young, and has no experience looking after children or running a home. After three months on the program, Fatema weighed 7.2kg, and her height was 70cm. The cooperation shown by her mother, who diligently followed all the advice given to her by Al Ahli Hospital, was said to be one of the key factors in Fatema’s rapid improvement.

Your donations are helping to give these children a healthy future.

A nurse weighs a baby at the clinic
A nurse weighs a baby at the clinic. © ABM/Julianne Stewart, 2017

Background

The Child Nutrition project aims to intervene in cases of moderate and severely underweight infants at around six months of age. After assessment by the Al Ahli Hospital staff, the most needy children are provided with nutritional supplements (fortified biscuits and multi-vitamins) for a 3 month period, and their mothers are also provided with education about nutrition and family planning.

There is a significant problem with poor nutrition in Gaza, with most families eating only relief food provided by the UN and other donors. Although high in calories, this food is low in nutritional value if eaten exclusively over long periods of time. This leads to what is known as “hidden hunger”, a serious issue especially in early childhood.

During the 3 month intervention of the Child Nutrition project, over 80% of infants improve in health outcomes. If significant stunting has occurred (a severe impact of infant malnutrition) the recovery can take longer. In these cases, the children can re-enter the program and complete a second 3 month period, or even a third.

Overall, the Al Ahli Hospital sees 200 children in each three month period, with each child and their mother making six visits to the hospital during this time (once every 2 weeks).

ABM would like to thank all of our generous supporters who have donated towards this project. If you have been inspired by these stories of success, please visit our Al Ahli Hospital homepage for ways to support more success in the future.

A smiling mother with her child visits Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza.  © ABM/Julianne Stewart, 2017
A smiling mother with her child visits Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza. 
© ABM/Julianne Stewart, 2017

 

Source: Interview with Dr Jihad, Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine, and interview with Dr Ahmad Madhoun, Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Ahli, and Dr Mohyi Sharkwi, Paediatrician at the Ahli, 6 June, 2017.

 

 

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