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Early Success: One Child at a Time

April 19, 2010 - India

by Caitlin McQuilling

As our teams have finished their baseline surveys and are now moving on to the intervention stage of our childhood malnutrition program, we’re excited to already be seeing successes. A few days ago I went out with one of our community nutrition educators, Priyanka, from Alirajpur, to see how the team is doing with their trainings and individual household counseling sessions.

photo: Priyanka, one of RMF’s Community Nutrition Educators, Kashish, and Ranu

Priyanka and I visited Chota Undava village which Priyanka had already visited twice, once during the baseline and once to follow-up with malnourished patients she identified. We entered the village and Priyanka knew exactly which households to go to where children with moderate or severe acute malnutrition lived. The first house we stopped at was the home of Kasish and Kishore, who’s youngest child Ranu, 1 ½, Priyanka had identified as severely malnourished one month ago. Ranu measured a 110mm around her mid-upper arm (MUAC), and while Priyanka spent hours trying to convince the family to go to the Nutrition Rehabilitation Center, the family refused to go because of their 4 other children at home and work commitments. Priyanka counseled this family extensively on the effects of malnutrition and ways in which they could improve their child’s health at home, including improved breastfeeding, regular supplemental feeding using locally available nutritious foods, and improved sanitation and hygiene. She coordinated with the local anganwadi worker (village health worker) to follow up with the family every day in between her visits to check up on the family and make sure the child was receiving adequate nutrition and didn’t develop any complications. On our visit 4 weeks later, Ranu had improved from a 110 to 113 mm. Modest weight gain, but proof that Ranu is on track towards weight gain and that the family is putting into practice the tips we’ve given them to ensure that all their children are healthy and happy.

We visited three more houses in this small village where children had had significant weight gain over the past month. At Sursingh and Shada’s home, Asha, had improved from 115 (the borderline of severe to moderate malnutrition) to 125 (the borderline from moderate to normal). Sushila and Raman’s daughter Saraswati had improved from moderate to normal and Gudu’s son Ravi improved from severe to moderate.

Modest success, but an early sign that our work is making an impact in this village for these four families. Multiply that times 500 villages and we’re on track to making a difference in hundreds of lives

photo: Priyanka with Shada and her mother Asha

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