Empowering health workers to save lives…Baby Farhiya’s story
The current drought affecting counties across Kenya is getting worse and children like Farhiya have not been spared. Farhiya and her family live in Lagbogol settlement in Wajir County, northern Kenya. The residents rely on Lagbogol dispensary for all their medical needs as it is the only health facility in the area
“Farhiya was only 11 months old when she was brought into the hospital with complains of diarrhoea, cough and no appetite. On examination she was severely malnourished weighing only 3.9kgs, with a Mid Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) of 9.6cm. Normally a child her age should weigh at least 10Kgs and the MUAC should be at above 12.5 cm. Being severely malnourished, too weak and with medical complications it was necessary to refer her to Wajir county hospital for admission and further treatment. Farhiya could not eat, at Wajir hospital, she was given antibiotics and food supplements through tubes,” says James, a nurse at Lagbogol dispensary,
“We made sure there was someone to follow-up regularly. We use community structures to help us. So we assigned a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) to conduct home visits to ensure that Farhiya feeds on plumpy nut and takes all her supplements as advised and to report any further complications observed. Within one month after starting the treatment, Farhiya’s weight had increased to 4.9kg. She had better appetite and no other illnesses such as diarrhoea and coughing. We were able to get the nutritional supplements on time,” reveals James.
Farhiya is now 25 months. When Save the Children staff visited her at home, they found her weight had increased to 10kgs (with a MUAC of 14.0cm) and she has recently been discharged from the Supplementary Feeding Program.
“I am happy Farhiya has improved through the support from Save the Children staff and nurses who visited me to check on Farhiya’s progress at home,” says Farhiya’s mother.
Save the Children through the UNICEF-EU funded Maternal Child Nutrition Program (MCNP) is working in partnership with the department of health at the county level to support training of health workers to manage cases of malnutrition, strengthen capacity of the county to plan and budget for health care delivery, influence health seeking behaviour among community members and encourage their involvement in health planning and monitoring. This has enabled health workers to successfully manage health complications and communities are more aware of good health, nutrition and hygiene practices.
James says the trainings they have received through the MCNP project have enabled them to confidently identify and handle cases of malnutrition. “We are only four staff members and three of us have been trained on management of acute malnutrition. The trainings have helped us to save lives and we are managing well. We now see more patients coming in compared to the previous years. However, if cases are too severe, we still refer to Wajir County referral hospital because they have a stabilization centre to manage inpatients.”
The capacities of the health workers were strengthened through MCNP trainings on integrated management of acute malnutrition and maternal, infant and young child nutrition. It was critical in ensuring that the county staff managing the health facilities had the necessary capacities to manage malnutrition cases.
The project is also working closely with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and other sectors within the counties to build a solid resilience base within communities thus strengthening their ability to spring back to normalcy in case of drought related emergencies. This includes advocacy efforts to ensure the County Government invests in nutrition.