Since June 2016, GOAL Niger has been implementing a project funded by the European Union, aimed at contributing to the reduction of morbidity and mortality from malnutrition in children under five years of age in Tanout and Belbegi departments (Niger). With this funding GOAL supports staff in 31 health facilities and two nutrition intensive care units to identify and manage the treatment of acute malnutrition.
In October 2016 Amina* brought her 26 month old baby Abdou* for consultation at Falanco healthcare centre, one of the 31 health facilities supported by GOAL through this project. Amina was worried as her baby had been experiencing vomiting and diarrhoea for a few days.
The health staff tested the baby for malnutrition using a method known as MUAC measurement (Mid-upper Arm Circumference) and other analyses. Unfortunately many of the test results were out of the normal range and the nurse advised that the baby be urgently transferred to intensive care in a stabilisation centre at the nearest hospital in Tanout town (120km from Amina’s village).
"Thanks to all this support, children under 5 years receive free quality nutrition care in both Tanout and Belbegi stabilisation centres."
Surprisingly, at first Amina disagreed and rejected this suggestion, refusing to bring her baby to hospital. She was worried about the costs of treatment, and didn’t fully understand the severity of the situation. A volunteer working in the health centre and trained by GOAL convinced her by explaining the severity of the problem and promised that she would not need to pay any health care fees as these would be fully covered by the project. When Amina understood this she agreed and the baby was sent by ambulance that day to the hospital.
Local agents from the Ministry of Health usually complain that they lack all kinds of resources, including personnel and fuel for the ambulances. This ECHO-funded project provides support to the Ministry including a monthly lump sum to the hospital to ensure that all ambulances are operational in order to transport children suffering from severe acute malnutrition from the health centres to the stabilisation centres. In addition the project is also refurnishing the stabilisation centres to improve the quality of service, and supporting human resources. Thanks to all this support, children under 5 years receive free quality nutrition care in both Tanout and Belbegi stabilisation centres.
Abdou was admitted to a free therapeutic treatment and his health improved quickly. After a few days his MUAC measurement had improved greatly. Abdou was then allowed to go back to his home where he continued to receive appropriate free medical care. His mother Amina, is now a happy woman and very thankful to this project. She said recently that she’s ashamed she thought about refusing to bring her baby to the hospital. She said that the support given by this ECHO-funded project saved her little son’s life.
Issiaka Amadou, Project Manager, Tanout.
*Not real names