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Being a malnourished child in Niger: two stories

By Monica Pinna
Being a malnourished child in Niger: two stories

The children’s ward in the National Hospital of Zinder is quiet. The young patients move slowly with no energy. The majority of them are malnourished.

Some are fighting for their lives, like two-year-old Rabé. She weighs just over 5 kilos, instead of 11 kilos. She is in a coma in intensive care, with complications from undernourishment.

Hawaou Ousmane Madougou, Head nurse, Zinder National Hospital said, “All the children who come here with malnutrition present complications. They can have breathing complications, metabolic complications, neurological, digestive and skin complications. They come here with none or more of these symptoms.”

The intensive care provides treatment on the wards to dozens of other little patients.

Bohari Huseini is three-years-old and is a complex case with severe acute malnutrition.

“This child has a cough and a respiratory infection with rapid breathing. He also has diarrhea which caused severe dehydration,” said Madougou.

Bohari weighs 7.4 kilos instead of 12. He will need around two weeks at the hospital to regain his strength.

His mother Amina Chaibou said, “I have six children and two have suffered from severe acute malnutrition. It’s because I don’t produce enough milk because I don’t have enough to eat”.

Zinder National hospital admits between eight thousand and nine thousand severely malnourished children like Rabé and Bohari every year. In Niger malnutrition still kills 38,000 children every year.

Journalist • Monica Pinna