When Héritier, whom we introduced to you a few days ago, arrived at our hospital, the first thing we had to do was stabilize his critical condition. In addition to malaria and complications from untreated tuberculosis, which put his life in immediate danger, the Ntamugenga team also had to treat severe malnutrition that had ravaged the fourteen-year-old’s body.
The first test to assess the condition of a young patient is measuring mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC). A MUAC of less than 125 millimeters indicates moderate acute malnutrition. Such a child should be immediately referred for treatment as it is at risk for acute malnutrition and will not recover without adequate food and growth monitoring. Héritier’s MUAC was less than 115 millimeters, indicating severe acute malnutrition and putting him at risk of death.
In such situations, F-100 therapeutic milk, a formula developed in the early 1990s for the treatment of malnourished children, is truly a godsend. One hundred milliliters of milk provides one hundred calories. A patient receives a dose according to precisely calculated proportions every three hours (including at night). This stage of the disease is extremely dangerous and the milk is indispensable so we must make sure that we never run out. The government, which is obligated to deliver supplies of milk to hospitals and up until recently did so fairly regularly, has recently failed to follow through, ceasing all deliveries. Without the government’s help, we have no one to rely on in our fight for the lives of the young patients but ourselves. We have no time to waste! Héritier needs 1 can of F-100 milk a day. We also have 5 other patients in similar conditions, and dozens more suffering from moderate acute malnutrition.
A child’s hunger is very different from an adult’s. While an adult is able to recover, a child who does not get enough food will never fully develop its potential, and is robbed of the chance to become the person it was meant to be.
The pandemic has made this fight against hunger even more difficult, but we know we are not alone in our efforts. After all, we have you, and with your support we can turn around the world’s worst injustices, inch by inch.
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