Medika Mamba Success: Dieulene’s Story

Dieulene arrived at Hospital St. Jean 9 weeks ago. At 19 months, she weighed only 14 pounds, far below the 19 pounds recommended for her height. She had a severe case of malnutrition. It’s always frightening to see children in this state- here today, gone tomorrow. Dieulene’s mother has passed away; her father is out of the picture. Previously, her grandmother had brought her to the clinic every week, now she is being hospitalized. This week a neighbor woman brought Dieulene to the check up.

Usually children’s caregivers are referred to the Medika Mamba program when the child comes to the clinic for vaccinations or other concerns such as diarrhea. If the nurse recognizes that the child is underweight, they refer them to the program. Medika Mamba is designed to meet the needs of severe and moderately malnourished children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years old. Doses (in spoonful) are doled out several times a day according to the child’s weight and height, the bigger the child, the greater the dose. Progress is monitored on a weekly basis and caretakers are only given enough Medika Mamba to get them through the week, thus ensuring their attendance at the following week’s check-in.

Lethargic, inactive and weary describe a child who is losing the battle with malnutrition. This no longer describes Dieulene who was alert, feisty, and irritable during her 9th and final visit, just like a healthy child when surrounded by strangers. This is a good sign.  Her discharge weight is a healthy 18.7 pounds. Thick healthy skin with a little fat under it covers the ribs on her back, unlike nearby children who were just beginning their Medika Mamba regimens. This kind of improvement in child after child is what fuels our commitment to increasing the availability and use of Medika Mamba in the fight against childhood malnutrition.