Medicine and nutrition training saves lives in South Sudan

By Abraham Nhial

Atong Aruop had been sick for two years of her short three years of life, suffering from countless bouts of diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.

In her remote village in South Sudan, her mother, Adhieu Mapal, had taken her to a health clinic, but the little toddler didn’t get better. She took her to traditional healers, and Atong still didn’t improve.

South Sudan girl malnourished, arm band measurement
3-year-old Atong gets her arm circumference measured. The red indicates severe malnutrition.

The real problem: Malnutrition

Now, just a week after being discharged from a clinic, Atong arrived at a World Vision nutrition center, where Adhieu learned the real problem in her daughter’s health.

“At first it was sickness, but recently, it turned out to be malnutrition,” Adhieu says.

Food is hard to come by for the family due to food shortages. They grow crops and rear cows, but floods destroyed their crops, leaving them with little food.

“We don’t have enough food because of poor rains last year,” Adhieu says. “We had to sell a cow to buy food in the market.”

Surviving on milk and porridge

Atong and her four siblings drink milk and eat corn porridge to survive, but it’s not enough. UNICEF estimates that by the end of 2016, nearly a quarter-million children under 5 in South Sudan will suffer from severe acute malnutrition.

“Fighting malnutrition requires education, food, and medical care,” says Perry Mansfield, the national director for World Vision in South Sudan.

Equipped with the proper tools for diagnosing and treating children, World Vision clinic staff measure children’s arm widths to detect malnutrition. But beyond diagnosis, staff work with families to usher in changes to the beliefs and actions that continue the cycles of sickness. World Vision also operates programs to improve food productivity that work toward combatting child malnutrition, since 9 in 10 households depend on crop farming, livestock, fishery, or forestry for their livelihood.

Atong received therapeutic food treatment at the nutrition center, which helped her get healthy quickly. At the same time, Adhieu learned about better food, health, and nutrition practices to help her children, which she now puts into practice.

Perry says, “World Vision uses a pragmatic response, incorporating food security interventions and mobilizing communities to let go of traditional practices and prejudices in order to adopt health-seeking behaviors in the interest of their children and communities.”

Ways to help

Praise God for the lives that have been saved. Pray that World Vision can help more children and families this year.

Give a gift today to help World Vision respond to the crisis. Because of grant funds, your gift will have twice the impact to help provide urgently-needed food, clean water, access to life-saving medical care, and safe places where children can learn and play.

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