Asiyileni Bwanali with baby Loyce at Bangwe Health Centre in Blantyre (Copyright: WFP/Pamela Kuwali)
WFP nutrition support helps improve the health of children under five as well of pregnant women and nursing mothers. More than 29,500 children are benefitting from WFP's supplementary feeding programme at 338 government-run health centres across Malawi. The food rations treat malnutrition... and provide hope for mothers like Asiyileni Bwanali.
Loyce had lost weight and was sick. She was vomiting, had fever and had been suffering from diarrhea for almost a week. Her young and inexperienced mother, Asiyileni (18) did not know what to do. She was relieved to hear from a friend about the nutrition programme at Bangwe Health Centre in Blantyre.
When Loyce and her mother arrived at the centre, Health Surveillance Assistant, Miriam Juba measured and weighed the baby. Her weight-for-height ratio was 75 percent. The recommended ratio is 100 percent and anything lower than 80 percent is a cause of concern. Loyce was diagnosed with acute malnutrition and was at risk of deteriorating into severe malnutrition, a dangerous and life-threatening condition.
The child was immediately admitted to the WFP supported supplementary feeding programme for treatment. After two months of being fed Likuni Phala (corn soya blend), she went from 6 kgs to 7.2 kgs. Although still below the average weight for a nine month old baby, she improved fast.
“My child’s health has improved since I started giving her Likuni Phala,” says Asiyileni. “Before coming to the health centre, there was hardly any food at home to feed her properly”.
Lessons on nutrition
Housewife Asiyileni is married to a minibus conductor but his wages are low and they struggle to buy enough food.
Loyce is one of the 60 children benefitting from the supplementary feeding programme at government-run Bangwe Health Centre. Treatment for acute malnutrition includes a daily ration of 300 grams of locally-manufactured Likuni Phala.
Recognizing that supplementary feeding alone is not a long-term solution, the programme includes lessons on nutrition through singing and group discussions with mothers.
“The lessons will help me to prepare nutritious food for my child, so that she will not become ill again,” says Asiyileni.
Bangwe is one of the 338 health centres implementing the programme in Malawi. Through it, WFP is reaching some 29,500 children under five and close to 4,000 pregnant and nursing mothers. According to the 2010 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey, 4 percent of children under-five years are wasted and 47 percent are stunted.
WFP Nutritional Programme restores hope for mothers like 18 old Asiyileni whose baby was saved from a life threatening malnutrition.