by Michael Matheke-Fischer, Regional Programs Coordinator, South Asia

After months of negotiating the bureaucratic maze of India; acquiring form after form and signature after signature; tireless hours spent on renovation and beautification by our dedicated staff and volunteers, RMF and its partner, Jeevan Jyoti Health Service Society, who operate Jeevan Jyoti Hospital, proudly inaugurated its Nutritional Rehabilitation Center (NRC) in partnership with the state government of Madhya Pradesh.

After the requisite ribbon cutting and speech by the district’s Chief Medical Officer, we immediately admitted our first 12 patients, who had been waiting (while being looked after by our staff) for hours to be officially admitted.

This Public-Private Partnership (NRC) is one of a handful of its kind in all of India. The Government of Madhya Pradesh will provide the funding while RMF and JJHSS provide the facilities, the staff, and technical support for the difficult task of treating patients with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).

With the capacity to treat 20 children at a time, this center will offer round the clock care to children suffering from the worst forms of malnutrition. The NRC provides the serious patients identified with a 14 day treatment consisting of regular feeding with micronutrient rich food and required antibiotics, de-worming, and treatment of underlying illnesses. Upon referral, the child’s height and weight are measured, a Mid-Upper Arm Circumference Test is performed, and if SAM is present, the child is admitted.

Cases of SAM in Madhya Pradesh are treated with two types of therapeutic food depending on the severity and complications of their condition, and are eased back on to a normal diet by receiving specific amounts of formula, based on weight, during regular feedings every two hours.  We have a resident pediatrician regularly assessing the children and providing treatment for any complications, such as respiratory infections, diarrhea, or other illnesses.

Our dedicated staff of one pediatrician, 3 nurses, 3 caretakers, a cook, and a feeding demonstrator, will not only cater to the medical needs of these acute patients, mostly under the age of 5, but will also work closely with the mothers to address the root causes of malnutrition in their child.    The mother’s will stay with their child at our center for the course of their treatment and recovery – usually 14-21 days.

Our staff will take full advantage of this time by offering mothers one on one and group counseling and training on important nutritional issues such as breastfeeding, supplementary feeding, local recipes, sanitation, hygiene, and other topics the women want to learn.

Our goal is that each child treated at our center not only recovers from SAM, but also stays well.

The opening of Jeevan Jyoti’s NRC closes the circle of the Malnutrition Eradication program. At the field level, we work in 100 villages in the area, have already identified hundreds of children in need of treatment, have provided referrals to other facilities in the area, and followed up with children who have already received treatment.

Now, our Community Nutrition Educators have a closer facility that they can work with, can familiarize themselves with the treatment procedures at the NRC to better explain the services in the field, and will participate more closely in the follow ups with treated children to prevent relapse.

While all of our activities are linked closely with government practices already in place, we hope to go a step beyond current activities and to set a standard of excellence that will be adopted by other NRCs in the state.

The opening of the doors of this facility was a real victory for the children of Jhabua and RMF’s staff. Through the hard work of everyone, twelve children started on the road back to health today.

For more information on how SAM is treated in the NRCs in MP and to learn about opportunities to contribute to this program, please visit our website for more information:

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