Treatment of malnutrition and malaria
In 2012 there were 143,000 deaths in Niger of children under five, making Niger the world’s 12th highest-ranking country for the mortality rate of children under five. Mainly because of malnutrition and the shortage or total lack of primary health care. Alima and a Niger NGO, BEFEN (Bien-Être de la Femme et de l’Enfant au Niger) work together in the fight against malnutrition and malaria in children under five (the most vulnerable age group) in the Mirriah and Dakoro districts, two of the most affected areas.
Situation: highly endemic malnutrition and malaria
Located in the center of Africa’s Sahel region, Niger has a population of over 16 million. Despite very real progress made over the past few years, health indicators remain below minimum international standards.
The high prevalence of malnutrition is one of the important factors for the very high mortality of young children. This is explained both by the prevalence of malnutrition known as chronic, i.e. leading to stunting in children’s growth, and acute malnutrition leading to low weight in relation to a given height. Chronic malnutrition in Niger is estimated to be 50% and over 60% in the Zinder and Maradi regions.
A population with a malnutrition rate higher than 15% is considered to be in an emergency. This rate is surpassed every year in Niger despite a stable political situation and the absence of any particular nutritional crisis. The very high rate of mortality is also due to a high prevalence of certain pathologies that are especially deadly in children: malaria, diarrhea and measles, and by the lack of access to primary and secondary health care.
Despite considerable progress made in treating malnutrition–in particular with the adoption by Niger authorities of an adapted treatment protocol–the treatment of children with severe malnutrition in Niger is still largely insufficient.
Working with the Niger medical NGO, BEFEN, since 2009 in Mirriah district and since 2012 in Dakoro, Alima is running a program for treating malnutrition and malaria. Alima and BEFEN are also conducting the MUAC (Mothers Understand And Can do it) study so that mothers can be offered the opportunity to detect malnutrition.
Bien Etre de la Femme et de l’Enfant au Niger (BEFEN–Rayuar Iyali) is an humanitarian charity founded in 2002 under Niger law by a group mostly composed of Niger doctors. Politically unaffiliated, its purpose is to “promote well-being in Niger women and children in health and education”.
Alima and BEFEN work together with various others players to support the Niger Ministry of Health to try and reduce infant-childhood mortality. Unicef supplies therapeutic foods and medicine to malnutrition-treatment centers. WFP (World Food Program) supplies food to the accompanying mothers. Alima and BEFEN supervise the medical quality of the care and the project’s proper operational management.
The Alima/BEFEN program guarantees adapted treatment according to the children’s state of health through out-patient and in-patient care. Severely malnourished children who do not present medical complications or suffer from simple malaria are not admitted to hospital but are treated in out-patient care. Alima/BEFEN provide hospital care for those children needing more thorough medical follow-up.
Alima also trains community outreach agents in the early detection of severely malnourished children within the community. Early detection not only makes it possible to save lives but also limit, even avoid, the after-effects of malnutrition.
Niger: Alima’s activities in figures
The treatment of 37,800 children with severe acute malnutrition and 92,000 malaria cases.
Funded by ECHO