Tuesday, 26 November 2013


After a 3 month absence, I am now back in Chad. From August to the end of October this year I was in the UK travelling around various towns and cities, meeting and speaking with many of you who have been faithfully supported the hospital and the work that we are doing here in Chad, as well as me personally. Spending time with family and friends was also a significant part of my time at home, as well as eating lots of good English food!

During many of my visits in the UK I told a story about a little boy I met here this year called Moustapha. Moustapha was 18 months old when I met him on the paediatric ward back in June. He was severely underweight, weighing in at 5.4kgs. His arms were skinny, tummy bloated, skin covered in sores, his hair was sparse and dry, he had sickness and diarrhoea and was generally a very unhappy little boy. Moustapha was admitted for treatment for acute severe malnutrition.

Moustapha on day of his admission to hospital, weighing 5.4kgs

He was given enriched milk, along with various antibiotics, vitamins and minerals to help his weak body regain its strength and its ability to fight infection so that Moustapha could begin to put on weight.

The majority of children that are admitted with malnutrition are very sick and the first few days are can be critical. Getting the essential medicines and nutrition into them is very important, but can also be very difficult. With a painful tummy, drinking milk was not what Moustapha wanted to do, but with perseverance and a battle of wills over the first few days, it was not long before a noticeable difference began to occur. Within a week, Moustapha’s sickness and diarrhoea had stopped and his skin began to look better. He was also crying less, although still looked very lethargic and poorly.

During this time, Mariam, a lady who works in the children’s clinic in the hospital, spent time each day supporting Moustapha’s mother and explaining what food is good to feed Moustapha and the importance of basic hygiene in preventing infections. Mariam also held weekly cooking lessons for Moustapha’s and other mothers, during which she could practically demonstrate nutritionally rich recipes with locally sourced, affordable and seasonal food.

Mariam weighing a child in the Children's clinic

Three weeks later, Moustapha was a different boy; he weighed 6.2kgs and was consistently putting on weight on a daily basis. He looked happy, eagerly tucked into any food put in front of him and had those much desired chubby cheeks! Moustapha went home with little bags of enriched porridge flour and peanut butter paste which Mariam makes here at the hospital and we give away free of charge for all children who are underweight.

Moustapha on the day he left hospital weighing 6.2kgs
Moustapha has continued to put on weight since his discharge home, which we have monitored in the children’s’ clinic.

All children of 5 years and under who come to the hospital for medical help are screened for malnutrition, around a third of whom have been found to be moderately or severely malnourished. These children are hospitalised if needed or followed up by Mariam in the children’s clinic where their carer’s get lots of help and advice, as well as free nutritionally rich food.

Chad has the highest rate of malnutrition in the Sahel and West Africa region [1], the causes of malnutrition are extremely complex. UNICEF has estimated that 127,000 children in Chad were at risk of Severe Acute Malnutrition in the year 2012, a few of whom we have seen here at the hospital. Moustapha was just one of these children who we have had the joy and privilege of seeing healed. It costs about £48 to care for a child as an inpatient with acute severe malnutrition for 3 weeks. BMS World Mission, the organisation with whom I work, have produced Christmas gift tags, some of the proceeds of which will go towards the costs of caring for children such as Moustapha here at Guinebor hospital.

As I left the UK 3 weeks ago, the signs of Christmas were already around as people began the annual Christmas shop. If you would like to support the work with malnourished children here in Chad, then you can buy these Christmas tags from this link: bms christmas tags

(permission was given by the mother of Moustapha to share his story and pictures)

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