Little Eugénio, one year old, arrived at the Inpatient Nutrition Center (UEN) at Humpata Municipal Hospital, Huíla Province, with the typical symptoms of severe malnutrition: low weight, lack of appetite, sluggishness in movement and swelling in the upper and lower limbs (called oedema). Dina, a 23-year-old young mother, feared for the life of her only son, who also had diarrhoea and had been complaining of stomach pain for a few days.
Dina and her husband are farmers on the plot shared with other family members. Of the little they harvest, they divide the produce for consumption and the rest for sale in local markets. When the young mum goes out to work, other children in the family, aged between 5 and 12, look after Eugénio. Dina leaves a meal prepared, but at the end of the day she can't say whether the baby has been well fed.
The reality of multidimensional poverty experienced in Dina's home, and recurrent in the region, led Eugénio to fall ill. With limited knowledge of food and good hygiene practices, the mother had enough to offer her baby just one meal a day, made of flour and water, and tried to supplement it with breastfeeding. When Eugénio was eleven months old, he began to reject his mother's milk, and his health deteriorated.
When he arrived at UEN, the baby was hospitalized for six days in intensive care, receiving therapeutic milk, vitamin A and medication, and his mother was given guidance on how to diversify and prepare food in order to prevent this situation from happening again.
"I learnt that I need to wash my hands and boil the water to prepare the food, and that I can also give Eugénio eggs, cabbage, tomatoes and carrots to eat, because I didn't know he was old enough for that" says Dina.
Within a week, Eugénio started to react and gained weight, and according to nurse Margarida dos Santos, who is in charge of UEN, "thanks to the introduction of Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic Food (RUTF) into his dietary routine, he is moving towards a healthy state of health".
"Now the fear is gone. Every week we come back here to the UEN to check on Eugénio's health, but I already feel that he's much better, he's even playing.
From January to August fo 2023, the Humpata Municipal Health Directorate had already registered 1,015 children with Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) and 1,264 with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).
With the help of Food for Famine through World Vision Canada, 3,960 boxes of Plumpynut were distributed as part of the South West Angola Emergency Response - SWAER II project, the aim of which is to screen and refer children aged between 6 and 59 months with malnutrition to the region's health centres to receive the therapeutic food (RUTF).