An integrated response improves health, nutrition and access to water for those affected by conflict
Rébaï Jérémie, at 17 months old, weighed less than 8kg when he was brought to the dispensary of Daté, a village 50 km from Berbérati, where he received nutritional supplements and anti-malaria treatment for a month. By the time he was 10 months old, he should have already weighed between 8 and 11kg. "I can say with joy that my son's life was saved thanks to the assistance received", testified Jeanne Namféï, the mother of Jérémie, a beneficiary of a programme supported by the Humanitarian Fund for the Central African Republic (CAR).
Like Jérémie, nearly 100 malnourished children are cared for by the NGO African Relief Service (ARS) in Daté, a village of just over 1,000 people, in the Mambéré-Kadéï prefecture. These malnourished children are referred to the health facility by trained community relays, who travel through villages, screening children. In addition to taking care of malnourished children, ARS organizes mobile clinics. In Daté village alone, nearly fifty children, suffering from various illnesses, were treated, free of charge.
Other villages, on the outskirts of Amada Gaza in western CAR, also benefit from the support the NGO provides. At the Amada Gaza’s dispensary, between 30 and 40 patients are treated every day thanks to the medicine, medical equipment and financial support that ARS provides. "We could hardly take care of 20 patients a day," said a health worker. Of the 3,895 children aged between 6 months to 6 years, screened in July 2020, 119 children (3 per cent) suffered from severe acute malnutrition and were admitted to therapeutic nutritional units supported by ARS. This NGO also provides the dispensary with medicine, ensures the referral and transport of patients in serious condition to the Berbérati hospital and has built an operating theater.
Reducing maternal and infant morbidity and mortality associated with acute malnutrition
In Gamboula, a town also located in Mambéré-Kadéï, the NGO African Development Initiative (AID) takes care of malnourished children and provides the district hospital with essential medicine. This support is also extended to the neighboring villages of Ndongo, Dilapoko, Béina, Vodowa as well as the secondary health post of the Evangelical Baptist Church.
From June to early September 2020, 52 malnourished children were admitted to the hospital in Gamboula where they were taken care of, with five meals a day, and therapeutic nutritional supplements. The NGO AID also helps parents and other who are accompanying sick children to the hospital, for example by covering accommodation and transport costs, as well as by distributing soap and buckets – essential items during the current health crisis.
COVID-19 measures taken into account in the response
These two NGOs have also integrated COVID-19 prevention measures into their various activities. In the case of Amada Gaza, sixty-five hand washing devices were installed in health facilities and public places. Some 30 healthcare providers have been trained in nutritional care according to a simplified protocol to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and 100 community relays have been trained in understanding barrier measures. These, in turn, will raise awareness among the population about these issues. In Gamboula, the propagation prevention mechanism can be seen in the promotion of hygiene measures, the distribution of hygiene kits to the most vulnerable people, the installation of hand washing devices at border entry points, mining sites, markets and other gathering places.
In the sub-prefecture of Gamboula, access to villages remains difficult due to the presence of armed groups, while the resilience of the population has been severely eroded following recurrent insecurity. In the Amada Gaza sub-prefecture, the deterioration of the road is hindering access to people in need. Access to these areas is only possible by motorbike, which reduces the assistance that can be provided to the population, but also the possibility of exchanges between the different localities.