Abandoned by their parents, twins João and Maria have been living with their grandmother. After noticing that they had become weak and ill, Alzira took them to the rural hospital in Moamba which is part of the Nutritional Rehabilitation Programme (NRP). The hospital diagnosed the girl and boy with moderate acute malnutrition caused by their poor diet and frequent infections.
The twins had lacked proper care and medical attention when living with their father in the capital city, Maputo. After their parents divorced, their mother was no longer around and they would often be left unattended while their their father was at work. Alzira took over the role of primary carer after discovering their situation. Just a week before team from the UN World Food Programme visited Moamba, Alzira had travelled to Maputo to see her son and grand-children. Unaware of their circumstances, she was taken aback by what she saw.
“I knew that my grand-children were sick, but when I saw them I was shocked,” she says. “Their appearance had sharply deteriorated since the last time I saw them. I immediately took them back to Moamba, as I'd heard of a special food being given by the rural hospital to malnourished people.”
The children’s improvement also struck Neusa Armando, the health centre nutritionist who assessed their condition on arrival.
“They were very frail,” she says. “They were visibly suffering from acute malnutrition. After we took their upper arm measurements and performed other tests, we concluded that the cause of their condition was not related to a specific disease but to a poor diet.”
Once admitted to the programme, they started receiving regular meals of SuperCereal, a fortified corn soya blend that can be made into a porridge. The results were almost immediate.
“Even though only one week has passed, I notice an improvement in them,” Alzira says.
NRP is a Ministry of Health programme supported by WFP. It aims to integrate the management of acute malnutrition into all health services, with a particular focus on child health consultations and pre-natal care. WFP provides a 10 kg bag of SuperCereal per month for each beneficiary until he/she recovers. The programme is run out of the main health centres in the provinces of Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambézia.
Since January 2013, the programme has helped more than 15,000 people overcome the damaging effects of malnutrition. There are plans to reach more than 55,000 people by the end of this year.