Nurses in training learn to assess the nutritional status of children under the age of five at a health centre in Tete province. WFP provides the centre with Super Cereal, a blend of corn and soya flour fortified with vitamins and minerals. The product, for the treatment of moderate malnutrition, is distributed to children, pregnant and nursing women, and patients living with HIV, AIDS, or TB. The provision of nutritional supplements at health centres is one of the means by which WFP supports the government’s National Nutritional Rehabilitation Programme, which aims to integrate the management of acute malnutrition into all health services.
Clara Panganane (31) went to the hospital for tests after an extended period of severe coughing. She was diagnosed with TB and HIV. Due to her low body mass index, she began receiving Super Cereal at the health centre, where she also goes for antiretroviral (ARV) and TB treatment. After three months of taking the nutritional supplement, she has noticed a marked improvement in her health and energy.
“Before I started receiving the Super Cereal, I was down; I couldn’t do anything,” she says. “Now I can walk and come to the hospital on my own.”
Improved health has allowed Clara to start engaging in casual labour so that she can help her husband in supporting their four children.
Julio Janota (62) was transferred to the health centre after being diagnosed with HIV in 2004. Only a few years earlier, his company closed down, making it difficult for him to find stable employment. Having battled the effects of poor health while trying to find work to provide for his six children, Julio has proven his strength in many ways.
But his condition sometimes deteriorates, rendering him too weak to work. He has been going to ARV treatment each month and receiving Super Cereal provided by WFP for several months.
“I’m now able to go to my farm, which is 50 km from the health centre,” he says. “I’m also able to do other kinds of work like getting firewood.”
Although he is fortunate to have relatives who sometimes help out when money is low, the ability to tend to his farm provides additional security.
Six-year old Decema Domingos began receiving Super Cereal last year after coming to the health centre for stomach problems thought to be caused by malnutrition.
“She hasn’t been able to go to school because she’s been too sick,” says her mother Katarina Sankhumlane. “She was starting to get better last month but recently her health has begun to deteriorate again.”
Decema’s condition reflects the complexity of battling undernutrition, and attests to the importance of ensuring proper nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. It is with this knowledge in mind that WFP supports the government’s multi-sectoral Action Plan for the Reduction of Chronic Malnutrition, which takes a preventative approach so that children like Decema are free from the debilitating effects of malnutrition.
Pinto Changambica Jambo (36) has been receiving ARV treatment for four years now. When his weight began to decrease last year, he was referred to the health centre for inclusion in WFP’s Direct Social Action Programme. Through the programme, Pinto has been receiving vouchers each month used to purchase food to bolster his HIV treatment and overall health. Pinto enjoys the freedom of choice allowed by the vouchers.
“I use the vouchers to buy items like rice, ground nuts, maize meal, eggs, sugar, salt, and oil,” he says.
The vouchers and Super Cereal he receives through the health centre each month have helped Pinto to gain weight and regain the capacity to work.
“I’ve a small farm but yield depends on the rains. I usually depend on casual labour for income, but since I have four children, the vouchers really help.”
Rita Manhoso (37) has been on ARV since last year and now stays with her mother in Moatize in Tete province. Due to continued weight reduction, she was referred to WFP’s voucher programme in September to complement the Super Cereal she had been receiving from the health centre.
For Rita, the vouchers provide a critical source of support for both her and her mother, as neither is working at this time.
“If it weren’t for these vouchers, I don’t know what I would do for food.” she says.
While her health has made it difficult to work over the past year, Rita feels encouraged by the gradual improvements in her weight and energy in recent months.
“I’m starting to feel better,” she says. “I now have the energy to try to find work.”
Myasina (22) took her 18-month old daughter Eunece to the hospital last year after she had become sick. Eunece was found to be underweight and malnourished, so she was referred to the health centre, where she began receiving Super Cereal through the WFP-supported nutrition programme.
“She has improved a lot,” says her mother Myasina, “After receiving Super Cereal for three months, her weight is now normal and she no longer needs the supplements.”
Although her baby no longer receives Super Cereal, Myasina still receives food vouchers for her daughter through WFP. The vouchers help ensure that Eunece can continue to receive the proper nutrition she needs at this critical period of growth and development.
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