Sharona cured of severe chronic malnourishment by Save the Children intervention
Combomune rio, a small village with 1.018 family holders and 4.073 inhabitants. It is situated in the district of Mabalne in the North of Gaza province-Mozambique and it is about 10km away from the nearest reference health center(Combomune). From this point, it is 50 km far from the District headquarter’s health centre. The name “Rio” is due to the fact that this community lies along Limpopo river line, so it is good for agriculture. It does not have means of transport and its population is obliged to walk 10 kms for health services.
Similar to other communities in the north of Mabalane district, combomune has been registering a widespread cases of chronic malnourishment specially linked with alternated floods and drought which most of the times impede crops to grow or to harvest. In general, we can say it discourages the investment and forces people to go for a traditional and inefficient agriculture (subsistence approach).
The low percentage of rain fall (less than 50% of the normal rain fall) and the high temperatures registered since July of 2015 and along the whole year in 2016 were translated into a severe draught. Combomune river dried completely affecting the production of crops which reduced below the average. The families exhausted their food stocks and started living in a situation of food insecurity. The lack of drinking water deteriorated, animals started dying due to lack of pasture, the families found themselves forced to reduce the number of meals (from 3 to 1) the quitting of children from school increased and health deteriorated with registered cases of severe malnourishment, mainly in children.
Sharona, who is 3 years of age, is one of the children in Combomune rio that suffered from a severe chronic malnourishment. Different from other children, she saw herself not allowed to be breast fed when she was almost 6 months due to disease her mother Anabela Alberto suffered from. The disease caused her wounds and she could not carry on feeding the child. As she had started giving Light porridge to Sharona to supplement the mother´s milk, Anabela intensified the process. However ,the Light porridge was not properly prepared.
According the mother, after some few months Sharon started showing some deficiency on the members which are signs of anemia, damaged hair, typical signs of malnourishment but her mother including other mothers in Combomune did know anything at all. It was after Anastância Valoi, a Child Health and Nutrition Community Health Agent who was trained by Save the Children in the context of Mamane project identified Sharona during her home routine visits as part of her work.
As they had solid knowledge regarding general signs of danger, she quickly referred Sharon to Combomune health center. When the mother and the daughter together with the activist who was directing them arrived to the health center, Sharon was submitted to a medical checkup and the disease was confirmed. As she was in a critical condition and it required staying in hospital she was immediately transferred to Mabalane Health Center Sede where patients can be hospitalized and there are more appropriate assistance services. In Mabalane, Sharona was again submitted to a medical checkup and the previous results were confirmed. She was diagnosed with severe chronic malnourishment and hospitalized.
After staying in hospital, Sharona was told to leave and redirected to Combomune health center as to follow up her treatment with ATPU supplement. However, the supplement was not available as they did not have any left in the stocks at district level. The lack of the referred supplement limited the action of the health professionals in the sense that they were only able to council on food and nutrition to correct malnourishment through the administration of a homemade specific diet. Sadly, Sharon´s mother did not have food because in that year (middles of 2016) the severe draught was fustigating the province of Gaza in the district of Mabalane where Combomune rio makes part of it. However, the struggle and will of a mother who saw the life of her daughter slowly perishing never allowed her hope to abandon her heart and with the permanent visits and help by Anastancia, she believed in the cure of her daughter.
Through the Save the Children´s Mamane project, Anabela who is Sharon´s mother actively started participating in nutrition sessions and at the very same time the availability of ATPU at Combomune health center was being announced. The Save the Children trained activist informed to Sharona´s mother and she regularly started getting supplements and taught how to use them in the child´s diet and how to prepare enriched porridge.
Given the fact that sometimes Sharona could still feel diarrhea and high fever, the monitoring and counseling by the Save the Children activist and the nutritionist were permanent and they allowed Sharona to complete her calendar of medical consultations and control and for her mother to follow the advices given.
Through the teachings that Anabela Alberto, Sharona´s mother had from Save the Children´s project and motivated by the improved state of her daughter´s health, she made herself available to turn her family into a model family at community level in Combomune and became a training mother to other mothers (Where she teaches how to prepare enriched porridge, sensitization of other mothers through lectures) to save the lives of other children.
“…the situation I experienced served as a school for me, I learned to value the health services because of the Save the Children, My daughter Sharona was saved. I always had faith in seeing my daughter healed but without the help of the Save the Children that could have been impossible. I made myself available so that my daughter could be a model in the community. I did not intend to make the other mothers think the way I think but to show them not to give up, for them to give relevance to the teachings that promote health in our community and together be able to prevent children deaths in the same way I was almost to lose my daughter”. Said Sharona´smother.
It was because of the Save the Children Mamane´s project that Sharona is cured from Severe chronic malnourishment that she suffered from, yet she still still goes to the health centre and Anabela Alberto, Sharona´s mother became a Save the Children community collaborator where she teaches other mothers how to prepare a health to their children.
In Combomune rio and the remaining 39 communities of the project impact, the Save the Children, has been implementing activities aiming at reducing maternal and infant deaths as to have many more mothers smiling like Anabela Alberto and many more children saved like Sharona.