Nutrition outreach activities in Ceeldheer and Xarardheere gives hope to mothers and their children PDF Print

Instead of playing with other boys his age, two year old Shukri, a lies on his mother's lap at the Ceel Dheer Mother and Child Health centres, his breathing fast, his movements slow and laboured. His small body incapacitated by malnutrition.


Undernourishment among children below 5 years is common in Xarardheere and Ceel Dheer.  The climate is arid and prone to droughts and floods; and the topography prone to sand dunes. According to a recent research by CISP's livelihood project, 64% of the residents of Ceel Dheer and Xarardheere earn less than US$ 50 a year. With this meagre income, it is extremely hard for people to meet their basic needs particularly food and medical care for their children.


Ahmed the Health Coordinator in Ceel Dheer leads a team of mobile health workers who visit families in their homes to assess their nutrition status. "Sometimes we see children with malnutrition so severe their tissues are depleted causing oedema, its heart breaking," he says.


Sick children are first admitted in Ceel Dheer or, Wahweyn Mother and Child Health centres. Where they are fed on special food and then referred to Ceel Dheer District Hospital for further care.


A child suffering from oedema



During these mobile visits, communities are also educated on proper diets, symptoms of malnutrition as well as the availability of nutrition related services at the local health centres. Between February 2012 and November 2013, more than 20,400 children were screened for malnutrition.


For the last two years, Fadumo Sahal a mother of six has had three of her children enrolled in the Nutrition Program at the Xarardheere Hospital. Currently her youngest son Sadak is part of the feeding program, "we visit the hospital two days in week, and I can see good change in my child," she says.


The outreach activities are not without challenges; due to the sandy terrain, health workers cannot penetrate some areas. 'Only powerful four wheel drive vehicles can move in the sand dunes,' says Ahmed. He further notes, 'Such vehicles usually consume a lot of fuel. Fuel shortage is common here. Also, when the vehicle develops a mechanical problem, finding professional mechanics and spare parts could be a hard task.'


Despite the hardships involved, health workers are making very important contribution in lives of Ceel Dheer and Xarardheere residents. 'When I came here my son's health was very worrying. But today he looks healthy and hopeful. I am thankful to the health workers for their services to my son. I am now educated and will make sure that my children will not be victims of malnutrition again in the future,' said Shukri's mother, mama Khadija Kulmiye.




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