Save the Children Regional Director visits baby clinic
The Regional Director for Save the Children's East and Souther Africa Region, David Wright, visited Zimbabwe’s worst drought affected district of Binga, where he among other activities observed babies being screened for malnutrition at Sebungwe Mouth community growth monitoring point. The community screening point which serves all children under five years from surrounding villages was set up and equipped with support from Save the Children.
Wright met mothers who had brought their babies aged below five years for routine monthly growth monitoring and screening against malnutrition. The screening of babies, which entails weighing the babies to establish their weight, Mid Upper Arm Circumference and height among other health checks, was being conducted by three Village Health Workers, trained and equipped by Save the Children.
“We are screening babies to see if they are healthy and not malnourished. If we identify any babies who are underweight or moderately malnourished, we refer them to the local clinic while the ones that have severe malnutrition are referred to Binga District Hospital for further management,” said Binga Mungombe, a Village Health Worker.
“Save the Children and us the Village Health Workers have a common interest, that of ensuring good health and nutrition for all babies. The programme is very helpful as it is ensuring babies in our area grow up well, has helped to reduce diseases among children under five years, while mothers in the community have enhanced knowledge on how to feed their babies using appropriate Infant and Young Child Feeding Practices,” added Mungombe.
Mungombe said the nearest clinic is 12km away, hence the community growth monitoring point was established, to bring the services closer to home and ensure all babies’ health and development is registered and monitored on a regular basis.
“We have registers of all under-fives and at present we have 32 babies in our village. This makes it easy for us to do individual follow up on all babies who are not brought to the screening point,” said Mungombe.
Rosina Mudhimba another Village Health Worker commended Save the Children, saying the nutrition education sessions conducted at the community screening points have helped mothers to understand the importance of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life.
“Mothers are now fully aware that solids and other complimentary food stuffs are only given to the baby from six months onwards. Our Motto is give your baby breast milk only for the first six months”
Save the Children provided scales, Mid Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) Tapes, provided stationary, community Infant and Young Child Feeding and Counselling (IYCFC) cards and incentives like T-shirts and bags for use by the volunteer Village Health Workers.
Conducting regular growth monitoring of babies and screening them for malnutrition is very critical in Zimbabwe, where the country’s government declared a state of disaster as a result of the El-Nino induced drought that left approximately 4.1 million people without adequate food supplies. The food shortages being experienced in the country, are affecting the nutrition of babies, hence the need to continue encouraging mothers to continuously bring their babies for screening. Save the Children is also encouraging community members to establish vegetable gardens so as to ensure constant availability of nutritious food for the children and family as well.