In the Integrated Health Center of Kollo, South Niger, a few women holding their skinny babies line up in front of the out-patient therapeutic feeding center (CRENAS). A Woman named Zelika Marou has four children. Today, she brought her 11-month-old daughter, Fati Hama, for her weekly consultation.
“I came to the health center because my baby had fever and diarrhea, but I was told that she was also suffering from malnutrition,” she explained. Fati Hama started her treatment six weeks ago, and today is her last appointment. “Look at her,” said Mrs. Marou holding her baby girl with pride. “She looks so healthy now!”
To react to the major food and nutrition crisis of 2010, UNICEF and its partners supported the development of new treatment sites for malnutrition within present health centers. This allowed not only to provide treatment for children in emergency situation, but also to integrate nutrition issues at the heart of the existing health system. In Kollo, a new building was constructed to host the Intensive Nutritional Rehabilitation Centers (CRENI) and medicine and other supplies were made available to ensure quality of care.
Moreover, several health agents were trained to improve their skills in terms of managing childhood illnesses, with an emphasis on the detection and treatment of malnutrition. Malnutrition is often linked to other child preventable diseases such as malaria, respiratory infections, and diarrhea, and it is essential for health agents to understand the range of health issues that can affect children so they can provide quality care.