Guinea-Bissau: WFP scales up support for health centres to fight chronic malnutrition
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Published on 2 May 2014

Maria Odete Pedreira, head of the Bairro d’Ajuda health centre, says the fight against stunting is a huge challenge for health centres in Guinea-Bissau. WFP/Wilson Gama

In Guinea-Bissau, nearly 15,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition across the country. With financial support from the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), WFP has started distributions of supplementary nutritious foods in nutrition centres to help prevent chronic malnutrition. The intervention is part of a broader joint emergency programme, implemented by WFP in partnership with UNICEF, FAO and WHO.
Through the country’s national public health centres network, approximately 55,000 children—representing half of children aged 6 to 23 months across the country—will receive daily rations of Plumpy Doz for a period of three months (March to May 2014). Health service providers register the children receiving food and produce monthly reports on the progress of distributions.

In Guinea-Bissau, nearly 15,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition across the country. With financial support from the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), WFP has started distributions of supplementary nutritious foods in nutrition centres to help prevent chronic malnutrition. The intervention is part of a broader joint emergency programme, implemented by WFP in partnership with UNICEF, FAO and WHO.
Through the country’s national public health centres network, approximately 55,000 children—representing half of children aged 6 to 23 months across the country—will receive daily rations of Plumpy Doz for a period of three months (March to May 2014). Health service providers register the children receiving food and produce monthly reports on the progress of distributions.
According to a 2012 SMART nutrition survey, 14,665 children suffer from acute malnutrition in Guinea-Bissau, including 13,194 moderate cases and 1,471 severe, and the rate of chronic malnutrition is 27.4 percent— close to the 30 percent threshold considered “serious”—in Oio Bafatá and Gabu regions. This makes prevention measures critical in avoiding stunting, an irreversible symptom of chronic malnutrition.
Specialized nutritious food products like Plumpy Doz help to do just that. Maria Odete Pedreira, head of the Bairro d’Ajuda health centre, underscored the importance of WFP-supported prevention activities. “The fight against stunting is one of the biggest challenges that nutritional centres are facing at the moment,” she said.
In addition to the distribution of food to children through public health centres, WFP provided trainings on nutrition and reporting and has delivered non-food items like scales and other measurement tools to partners. More than 100 heads of health centres and 10 nutrition focal points from the Ministry of Health have benefited these activities.
The doctors, nurses and health care staff that participate in trainings are vital to assessing the condition of beneficiaries and accurately identifying their food and nutrition needs. “These trainings serve as basis for the implementation of WFP’s blanket supplementary feeding intervention in Guinea-Bissau,” explains Talismã Dias, WFP Health and Nutrition Programme Assistant.
Mrs. Pedreira highlighted the importance of WFP’s role in the health centre’s nutrition activities. “Having WFP’s collaboration on this activity with nutritious foods, which are not available on Guinea-Bissau’s local market, is the key for its success. It enables health centres to more suitably respond to the needs of this vulnerable group.”
Ivone Menezes, head of the Ministry of Health’s nutrition department, emphasizes the importance of monitoring the nutritional status of children in Guinea-Bissau. “When a child under two years old is affected by chronic malnutrition, the effects are irreversible, which poses a major public health problem.”
WFP plans to support 35,700 children under five and pregnant and nursing women in 2014 through relief and recovery operations.