What We Are Doing
Roshan: A health worker hero from Afghanistan 12 Feb 2015
Roshan is a female health worker who was trained by Save the Children in nutrition. She has eleven children.
“We learned a lot of information about malnutrition from this programme. In the community we use Upper Arm Circumference as a measurement to see if a child is severely or moderately malnourished. With moderately malnourished children we help within the community and we give advice to the family on how to eat healthily. When we find a severely malnourished child we refer to the health centre. When we find edema (swelling caused by severe malnutrition), we refer to the central health facility for intensive care."
Save the Children's project, ‘Improving the Nutrition Status of Children Affected by Malnutrition’, aims to establish an Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition program (IMAM) and Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) in coordination with Ministry of Public Health and in partnership with the BPHS implementer (AADA) in six districts of Nangarhar. The key focus of the program are:
- Building the capacity of health facility staff and community health workers to detect and treat children with acute malnutrition
- Establishment of therapeutic and supplementary feeding sites in existing health facilities to treat children with acute malnutrition
Roshan is also trained to provide the required support to mothers. She explains her vital role, "We give instructions on breastfeeding and teach mothers how to get their baby to feed properly. It is important that for the first six months, mothers are breastfeeding the baby. Continuing to breastfeed until the child is two years old is very positive for the baby. Another benefit is that they are not likely to fall pregnant while they are breastfeeding. After six months of breastfeeding they can start to include supplementary food."
Health workers like Roshan also provide health education to the community. For example, when pregnant, women should take iron, as that can help to prevent malnourishment. The community is more alert and appreciate this programme to help their children and pregnant women.
Roshan says, "I enjoy working on the health programme, especially nutrition because so many children are involved and families are very happy with us. They pray for us.”
Preventive interventions like raising knowledge, awareness and competency to promote optimal IYCF and hygiene practices are practices via individual counselling and peer support in the community. This helps Save the Children provide immediate response to the high rate of malnutrition, prevent further deterioration of nutrition status and prevent deaths among children.