The battle against child malnutrition in Pakistan’s flood-affected Sindh Province is reaching even the smallest, most isolated villages with the help of UNICEF-supported mobile health teams.
The teams make regular community visits to identify malnourished children and pregnant women. They give medicines and vital nutritional support such as take-home supplies of ready-to-use therapeutic food, which is essential for malnourished children. They also reinforce healthy behaviour such as breastfeeding, basic nutrition, and good health and hygiene.
"Before coming to this centre, my child would not eat anything," says Hajani, one of the mothers who attended a clinic operating in the small village of Suleman Kehari. "I got this food for my child from here. I give him one sachet every day. He has now started to take milk too and has started to gain weight."
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The clinic is one of 226 mobile health teams supported by UNICEF in southern Sindh. UNICEF has rapidly increased feeding and nutrition activities to deal with critical levels of malnutrition among flood-affected children in Sindh Province.
Child malnutrition is the single biggest contributor to under-five mortality, increasing the risk of infections and slowing recovery from illness. The mobile clinics enable doctors to reach children and mothers, even in remote areas.
"The clinics go to where families are," explains Dr Ayesha Riaz, a nutrition coordinator for UNICEF in South Sindh. "Once we have identified cases of need, we can provide assistance such as take-home supplies of therapeutic and supplementary food, health and hygiene sessions, and monitoring to ensure progress."
Read more about UNICEF's response to the 2011 Pakistan floods