|Weighing an underweight child May 2019. © Ahli Hospital. Used with permission.|
When 12-month-old Hend was brought to the paediatric clinic by her mother to be assessed and thoroughly examined by the paediatrician, she was sick and malnourished. She weighed only 6.6 kg and was 67 cm tall. She also suffered from anaemia.
Hend is a Palestinian toddler living in Gaza. She was selected for the Ahli Arab Hospital’s Child Nutrition project, with her mother, for a three- month period. Hend is the fourth child in a large family. The whole family lives in one room at her grandfather’s apartment. And, although her parents are moderately well educated, Hend’s father is too poor to secure even enough food for the family.
Once in the program, Hend received the appropriate treatment and fortified biscuits. It surprised the staff and her mother how quickly her health and nutrition improved. During the three-month intervention her weight increased by two kilos, and her height by 4cm. Her haemoglobin level also rose to within the normal range. Hend’s mother, along with other caregivers in the project, received nutrition counselling, education and a booklet on healthy eating, so that she now knows how to choose healthy food and how to feed her child during illness. Hend’s mother was also given a food parcel for Hend and the whole family.
Hend’s mother has expressed her deep gratitude to the hospital and for the generosity of ABM’s supporters who donated to this great project.
A study conducted by the Ahli Hospital has found that 90% of the beneficiaries continue to gain weight and stay healthy, six months after graduating from the program.
However, the plight of children in Gaza is far from secure. ABM recently received correspondence from the hospital, which is owned and managed by the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem. The letter (reprinted below) shows the feeling of hopelessness felt by the Ahli staff when they see the plight of children around them:
“Indeed the children of Gaza are unfortunate. What fault have they committed that they have to go through disastrous situations on a daily basis? They are suffering poverty, lack proper food and safe water. They face difficulties in accessing basic services like education and health and, above all, they are exposed to a high level of daily violence whether at their schools, in their communities or as a result of the continuing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
“I wonder what future awaits the children of Gaza? God only knows! The current challenges Ahli faces have become huge: a combination of extreme increases in health demands and big shortages of donor funds!”
But, true to their Christian faith and ethos, the management of the Ahli Hospital will keep working to give hope for the hopeless. Their faith is strong.
This project provides a comprehensive level of intervention. The health component includes medical management of malnourished children as well as education sessions aimed at increasing awareness of the children’s caregivers, mainly mothers. It also works to combat coexisting infectious diseases. Malnourished and underweight children from vulnerable families in underprivileged areas of the Gaza Strip who are aged from six months to just under five years are eligible for the program. A large proportion of the children targeted are from refugee families who have been displaced since the late 1940s.
Once recommended for the project by locally based NGOs, the children and their caregivers are provided with free bus travel to the Ahli for a nutritional assessment and clinical examination, together with lab and radiology tests when indicated. Each child is seen by the hospital paediatrician every two weeks for three months or until their nutrition condition improves. Medicines are provided for those children suffering from infectious diseases. The project also provides high energy fortified biscuits for malnourished children. Children who present with congenital heart disease may be referred to Government consultants for follow-ups and treatment.
ABM joins with the staff of the Ahli, and the Diocese of Jerusalem, in praying that one day the political situation in Gaza will be much better than it looks today, and that the children of Gaza, including little Hend, will enjoy long lives of peace and prosperity. Your donation can, in the meantime, help to provide a chance for children who start life with more disadvantage than most.
What the project funds:
In 2020 the Gaza Child Nutrition Project needs $24,500
Gifts to ABM will be applied to the support of project(s) selected. In the unlikely event of the project being oversubscribed or not proceeding to completion, donations will be applied to a similar project to the one(s) selected.
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