Combating Malnutrition – The Malawi United Methodist Church

Malnutrition is associated with a number of socioeconomic factors , including poverty, this may help to explain why the burden of  malnutrition is greater in Malawi being one of the poorest countries with poor health and nutritional indicators.

The Malawi United Methodist Church, in partnership with the World Mission in Germany, is combating Malnutrition in the under-five children and providing good nutrition to people Living with HIV/AIDS in Nancholi, Baluti and Manase communities, Traditional Authority, Kapeni, in Blantyre district.

Nutrition Clinic in Blantyre

The Under-five Children

The Nutrition clinic only recruits children with moderate malnutrition, severe cases are referred to the nearest hospital, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital for proper management. The management of moderate malnutrition is the church’s public health priority because if these moderately malnourished children do not receive adequate support, they may progress towards severe malnutrition.

The clinic opens two days a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and depending on the child’s Body Mass Index (BMI) or Middle Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC), the children are given Plumpy nut ( A ready-To-Use Therapeutic food) – Chiponde or Likuni Phala – (A cereal made from maize and soya beans). These food supplements are given every two weeks or monthly depending on the amount given.

5 Kgs Likuni Phala bags, ready to be distributed

Plumpy nut/Chiponde comes in two forms; bottles and sachets.  It conforms to the United Nations  definition of aReady- To- Use Therapeutic Food.

Bottles of Plumpy nut/Chiponde

Sachets of chiponde after being distributed to a client

A total of 39 children have been recruited so far. All the children accepted the plumpy nut very well, no intolerance has been seen. There is an average weight gain in wasted children who take 25g-75g of the spread daily.

Chisomo, one of the children eating Chiponde

Faith, one of the clients taking her chiponde

Children, ready to go home after receiving Likuni Phala

GOOD NUTRITION FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS

HIV and nutrition are intimately linked. HIV infection can lead to malnutrition, while poor diet can in turn speed the disease’s progress. Helping these clients with food supplements will help them to improve their weight and hence, improve the quality of life.

The clinic has 7 HIV positive adult clients who are all on ARVs with the average CD4 count of 26. These clients have different opportunistic conditions like Kaposi’s Sarcoma, Pulmonary Tuberculosis, Herpes Zooster, etc.

Mr Nsaka showing Kaposis's Sarcoma of his right leg

Kaposi’s sarcoma is a cancer that causes patches of abnormal tissue to grow under the skin, or in the lining of the mouth, often associated with AIDS. After being referred from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, where he gets his treatment, to our nutrition clinic for food supplements, Mr Nsaka has been in the program for three months.

Mr Nsaka after receiving plumpy nut/Chiponde

The clinic conducts Nutrition group education and counseling is done once a month between assessments and reassessments, to follow-up on the care plan, reinforce nutrition and food safety education and answer client’s general nutrition questions.

Women attending one of the nutrition education and counseling sessions

The clinic has 8 trained health volunteers who help in the screening of clients in the communities and referring them to the nutrition clinic.

Health Volunteers

The clinic also accommodates Nutrition students from Natural Resources College (a college in Malawi where students study agriculture and nutrition) for their internship.

Students from Natural Resources College

Therefore, The Malawi United Methodist church is committed to identifying and rehabilitating malnourished under-five children and Pepole Living with HIV/AIDS in its efforts to combat Malnutrition thereby contributing to government’s efforts to reduce malnutrition related mortality rates in Malawi

By Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo

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About wandikweza

We are a team of nurses, midwives and a public health practitioners working in limited resource settings
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