In conjunction with the Ministry of Health (MoH) procedures, The Malawi United Methodist Church (MUMC) and Church of the Resurrection (COR) from Kansas city, USA, the Nutrition Clinic has been up and running for five months in Traditional Authority Chakhaza, Madisi, in Dowa district. The aim is to reduce the number of malnourished children under the age of five.
I left Blantyre at 4.30am to Madisi.After driving for almost 7 hours, about 390kms, I was in Madisi around 11.30am, found the wonderful women and men waiting for me. As soon as I saw them, my soul wept, my exhaustion melted. They have been waiting from 8.00am. Thanks to Chimwemwe, the new Madisi Health Coordinator, who was there a day before me, for comforting them and Mrs Mark, our cook, for feeding these children while waiting for my arrival.
I had previously told the Pastor of Madisi, Peter Nethulu, that the screening was for the nursery school children alone (45 children), but when the community heard, they came to the nutrition clinic in large numbers, increasing the number by 69 (totaling to 114). The clinic programs involve the community as much as possible based on the idea that solutions to community problems already exist within the community. Its overall goal is enabling communities to independently address the problems of malnutrition in their young children. Therefore, i had no choice but to screen them as well.
I did not know where to start from, by just inspecting at these children; their faces told me a story. Soon the women cued to have their children screened one by one.
From the group discussions with parents before the screening, it appears very little education has been provided about nutrition, good hygiene practices, HIV and AIDS and the importance of monitoring the growth of their children. The parents were reminded that one way of addressing the malnutrition problems faced by the community is to cook nutritious meals with locally available produce.
Out of the 114 children screened, 23 were malnourished representing 20% and all these have been recruited into the nutrition program. Those with other ailments were referred to the Presbyterian church health center which offers free treatment to under five children within the same area, Madisi.
By Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo