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Plan and partners tackle malnutrition in Guinea-Bissau

Infants and children are measured and weighed to identify and refer cases of malnutrition. Photo courtesy of Plan staff.
Infants and children are measured and weighed to identify and refer cases of malnutrition.

Photo courtesy of Plan staff.
April 6, 2010

According to the last Multiple Indicator Cluster Suryer of 2006 (MICS), 23.4% of children 0-5 years old in Guinea-Bissau are moderately to severely malnourished, 40.9% show a moderate delay of growth and 19.5% suffer from weight loss. Also, the same source indicates that 24% of women are malnourished during pregnancy.

So since September 2009, Plan Guinea-Bissau, medical students and lecturers from the University of Medicine in the Bafata and Gabu regions have been helping to implement the Maternal and Child Nutrition project.

Nutritional support to 50 communities

The objective of this project is to provide nutritional support to malnourished children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers in 50 selected communities in the Bafata region by identifying and treating cases of malnutrition.

The project also aims to improve the monitoring system targeting nutritionally vulnerable children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. It is the result of a partnership between Plan, the World Food Program and the Regional Health Department of Bafata.

Together, the partnership provides material and human resources to support the existing basic health units and local staff (midwives and community volunteers), logistical support for project monitoring and nutrition kits for the basic health units, food items such as oil, corn, soy blend and sugar, and trains school children, midwives, child participation groups and community members and volunteers.

Plan has also trained 21 medical students from the University of Medicine in identifying cases of malnutrition in collaboration with foreign doctors.

Reaching 2700 women and children

After the training, teams of Plan staff, doctors and students went out to identify cases. They visited the 50 communities representing more than 90% of the target population: 1800 pregnant and breastfeeding women, and 900 children.

The teams measured and weighed infants and children, examined pregnant and breastfeeding women and referred cases in need of attention to be treated.

They found 2047 cases of severely and moderately malnourished children aged 6 to 59 months, 136 cases of malnourished pregnant women and 173 breastfeeding mothers with malnourished children less than 6 months old. The second phase of project will help train the traditional mid-wives to better identify, treat and follow up cases of malnutrition.

Learn more about Plan's work in Guinea-Bissau