An Islamic Relief project has empowered one of Niger’s poorest districts to fight malnutrition, particularly among mothers and children.
In the Tillabéri region’s Kollo district, few families had adequate access to healthcare – with few medical services available and only poor quality care on offer. In addition, many health workers and families were badly equipped to prevent and spot malnutrition in children.
An Islamic Relief project which began late last year, therefore, is already making a big difference. Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA), it has trained local health staff to diagnose and treat malnutrition, and introduced an extra 17 health workers.
A mass screening campaign followed, covering 100 villages to identify malnourished children and adults living some distance from health facilities – and provide free treatment. Dozens of community volunteers were also trained to support awareness-raising that empowered families with knowledge of how to prevent malnutrition.
Building quality and capacity
Medicines were given to 27 health centres in the district, and two new ambulances now transport patients referred for specialist care. We have also boosted access to water, by installing 20 new water tanks at medical centres.
In addition, we have renovated and improved infrastructure at the CRENI therapeutic feeding centres and provided regular monitoring to support the delivery of quality healthcare services. With extra capacity and armed with the latest best practice, the local health system is better equipped to tackle malnutrition and many other conditions. The project has also created an active steering committee that brings a range of stakeholders together to improve public health in the area.
The rate of recovery from severe acute malnutrition in Kollo has increased from 84.75 per cent in 2013 to 91.32 per cent the following year. Likewise, the mortality rate has gone down. By 2014, 0.12 per cent of malnourished people died – compared to 0.45 per cent in the previous year.
The project by Islamic Relief in Niger completed in May and has directly helped some 8,838 people.