“My mother is doing a good job”: Community health volunteers in Kenya show mothers how to detect child malnutrition at home – Kenya
From: Susan Martinez
“Before Action Against Hunger found us, we still had many cases of malnutrition,” says Rose Chepochonyil, a community health volunteer in Kapkitony village, northwest Kenya. “But we are now able to screen for malnutrition in our own children.”
With a simple tool known as a mid-upper arm circumference band (MUAC), Action Against Hunger empowers mothers to identify malnutrition in their children privately at home, without the need for a medical professional. or a visit to the health center.
As a member of her local mother-to-mother support group, Rose learned a lot about health and nutrition for herself and her children through Action Against Hunger. Now she teaches other mothers in her community how to wrap the color-coded MUAC band around their children’s arms to check their nutritional status: green means their child is well nourished, while yellow and red indicate moderate and severe acute malnutrition. With a yellow or red measurement, the mother can see that her child needs treatment.
“I’m very proud,” Rose said. “I used to have to go house to house, but now that has been reduced because women can now test their children in their homes without other neighbors seeing that their child is malnourished.”
Not all communities have a nearby health facility. Some women have to walk for hours or spend badly needed funds to get to a health center. Thanks to Rose’s teachings, mothers can save time and money by supervising their children at home.
“What makes me happiest is that no woman spends more money to visit the health facility,” Rose says. “Sometimes the health structure is far away, you will have to spend on transport, you will have to spend on lunch, going and coming back will cost money. But when we are able to take the measurements at home, it reduces these expenses… So instead of this money being used to visit the health facility, it can be used to pay school fees for the children . That’s what makes me happy.
Rose has nine children and all of them are very impressed with their mother’s work. They see her mobilizing others and using what the Action Against Hunger teams have taught her to teach her community about healthy eating. She also regularly checks their nutritional status using the MUAC strip.
“My children are happy with what I’m doing and they say, ‘my mother is doing a good job’,” says Rose proudly. “Some of my children are interested. They also want to try to take the measurements… I feel so good, I feel so honored.
With the support of Action Against Hunger, community health volunteers like Rose are improving the health and well-being of families in this region of Kenya.
“Since Action Against Hunger came to support our groups, I see that the health of women and children has really changed,” says Rose. “I say thank you because all of this is due to the efforts of Action Against Hunger and thanks to the skills and knowledge they imparted to us.