Overcoming Child Malnutrition in Tanzania
Tanzania, East Africa, is famous for Kilimanjaro and the stunning Serengeti. While it’s home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, many of the country’s residents, including children, face a very serious issue: malnutrition. Due to a variety of factors including gender and wage gaps and the effects of climate change, malnutrition continues to persist in many Tanzanian communities.
Malnutrition is when the body is not getting enough nutrients to sustain itself. It can be caused by not having enough to eat, or not eating enough of the right things. For young children, malnutrition can impact their overall physical and cognitive development. For children experiencing undernutrition, they are also at an increased risk of dying from common infections.
Proper nutrition, especially in the first few years of life, is key to ensuring children grow up healthy and thriving. According to UNICEF, focusing on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can prevent the negative effects of malnutrition from becoming irreversible, causing lifelong impacts. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to combat malnutrition, including programs currently in place by Red Nose Day’s Full Plate Project.
Finding malnutrition treatment for children in Tanzania
In Tanzania, 3.3 million children under 5 years old suffer from chronic malnutrition and 5.6 million suffer from anemia. In the rural district of Mpwapwa, more than 1 in 3 children are malnourished. This is where we meet Goodluck and Rodrick, two children in Tanzania who are facing this very issue.
When 22-year old Mariam noticed that her 11-month-old Goodluck started getting sick, she knew something was wrong. He had diarrhea, lost his appetite, and vomited any food he managed to eat. She was very worried but had no idea how to get him back to his normal self. After the efforts of a local health clinic didn’t improve his condition, she took her son to the District Hospital, a 90-minute bus ride away.
A similar story can be found in 4-year-old Rodrick. His grandmother, Rehema, noticed he was getting sick frequently, with a protruding stomach and swollen cheeks. As his condition worsened, she visited a nearby clinic where they referred her to a hospital. Rehma and Jacob, Rodrick’s grandfather, walked nine hours through tough terrain to get Rodrick the care he needed.
A healthy path forward
When they arrived at the hospital, where Action Against Hunger runs a specialized nutrition center supported by Red Nose Day, Goodluck was diagnosed with acute malnutrition and thankfully, was able to receive treatment. He was treated daily, and after a long 12 days, he was healthy enough to go home.
After both mother and child headed home, Mariam was able to use what she learned at the hospital to continue Goodluck’s healthy path forward by preparing him nutrient-rich meals. Now, Goodluck is learning to walk and likes playing peek-a-boo. Every day, he gets a bit stronger and better. Two weeks after being discharged, Marium and Goodluck attend follow-up appointments and Mariam can visit her local health clinic every week to attend health and nutrition sessions where she learns what to feed her child, how good hygiene prevents disease, and more.
Rodrick also found a happy ending after his long journey — after a week of treatment, he started feeling better. He was discharged and was able to go home with his grandparents. During his time at the hospital, Rehema learned about nutrition and hygiene, including how to cook vegetables, boil drinking water, and feed children with local foods. At home, she’s able to now feed her whole family including a healthy and growing Rodrick.
Red Nose Day’s Full Plate Project is working with Action Against Hunger to combat malnutrition across four rural districts in Tanzania, including Mpwapwa, by implementing a two-year project that aims to improve maternal and child nutrition for more than 211,000 children in Tanzania, just like Goodluck and Roderick, and adolescent mothers. Through proven interventions, including providing micronutrient supplements, treating acute malnutrition in communities and at health centers, and fostering mother-to-mother support groups — we're laying the foundation for children to achieve their full potential as adults.
How your donations make a difference
Working with our partners at Action Against Hunger, we are helping provide long-term solutions to treat and prevent malnutrition. Donating to Red Nose Day’s The Full Plate Project means you’ll be a part of this mission: your dollars help provide nutritious meals, medical care, and initiatives that educate families and communities about proper nutrition.
A full plate is more than just meals: it’s access to the right nutritious foods, educational resources for new parents, and training to support the continued growth of a child.
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