Manba for Malnutrition Update Dec 2008

2008 has been an extremely difficult year for Haitians.  First the inflation of food prices then the successive hurricanes and tropical storms have left the country with a huge food insecurity problem.  Some of those most affected by lack of quantity or variety of food are children under the age of 5: MFM’s target population.  Thankfully we have been able to help over 80 children since the program began in May of 2007.  As of today 17 children are currently receiving treatment.

On my trip to Jolivert in Jan. of this year I was pleased to discover that the program was running smoothly, and production of the Manba was going well. Jolivert Clinic’s Nurse, Doctor, Pharmacist and Director were all enthusiastic about the results they were seeing in the children treated.  I was able to do 2 home visits of children that had graduated from the Manba program just months earlier.  It was wonderful to see these kids healthy and happy with their family.  One of my responsibilities as MFM coordinator is to review nutrition assessments, track diagnosis and monitor outcomes.  What I was not happy to find was that too many children were abandoning the program after just 1 or 2 visits.  The return visits were a hardship on many of the families.  Most did not have the ability to pay for transportation and a round trip to the clinic by foot could take up to 8 hours out of their day.  Imagine walking 2-6 miles down and then back up a mountain with at least one small child every 2 weeks.  That was something this American never thought of!  The core MFM medical team, Christophe, Betty, Jackson and Edeline held a meeting and came up with a solution.  The MFM program would assist with travel expenses.  This has made all the difference.  The default rate has decreased by at least 75%. Children are returning for all their visits, receiving nutrition and sanitation education and reaching their goal weight.  When the child graduates he or she receives a small gift, a certificate of completion and a 90 day supply of multivitamins.

I again went to Jolivert in July with Maryellen Sanok, a Nurse Practioner from Michigan who is managing the MOL Outreach Clinics.  One of my goals with the Manba program has been to incorporate it in these remote clinics.  I traveled with Maryellen and Christophe to clinics in Grivot and La Platte.  Grivot is about an hour and a half drive and La Platte is a 20 minute drive followed by an hour horse ride.  I was able to meet with all the medical staff at both clinics and discuss the Manba program with them.  Both clinics have been referring malnourished children to Jolivert, but again, it is a hardship for families to travel that far.  The plan is for an outreach worker from each clinic to train with Edeline, the nurse, at Jolivert Clinic.  The child’s first visit and evaluation will still be done at our clinic but follow up care and Manba distribution will be completed at the Outreach Clinic site.

Due to the success of the Manba program and the rise in number of children being referred, MOL has hired another employee.  Louisna, an auxiliaire [nursing assistant] from La Hotte, began training the first week of November.  Not only will she work in the clinic but will also do preventative education to surrounding communities. This will include sanitation and hygiene, safe water use and preparation of well-balanced meals.  Soon the Manba for Malnutrition program can proclaim we are not just treating malnutrition but helping  PREVENT it as well.

I would like to recognize and thank the KT Community Foundation of California, Blue Grass Methodist Church and American Baptist East Church, both of Evansville, for their generous support.

Karen Becher