By Robert Tapfumaneyi
GOAL Zimbabwe has partnered the Health and Child Care ministry in launching a lifesaving nutrition programme set to benefit a quarter of a million children under the age of five over the next 12 months.
The Nutrition Emergency Response for Early Detection and Treatment (NERET) project funded by Echo will roll out in Masvingo Rural, Bikita, Gutu, Buhera, Mutare Rural and Chipinge Districts.
It will support 243, 000 children diagnosed with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) with nutrition interventions.
The project will also provide food assistance to households with confirmed cases of malnourished children.
Gabriella Prandini, GOAL Zimbabwe Country Director said the project will go a long way in ensuring vulnerable households with children under five are supported with screening and also treated for malnutrition while providing food rations to enable them to have minimum acceptable diets.
“We are working towards integrating nutrition and food security for under-five children in this current era of Covid-19,” said Prandini in a statement Tuesday.
“We will support the Ministry of Health and Child Care in strengthening early case identification of acute malnutrition and administer life-saving treatment for children.
“The rates of malnutrition are worsening as most vulnerable households do not have access to adequate food following three consecutive drought years, impacting negatively on children under five who may face risks of being malnourished.
“As such, the project will compliment efforts families make to provide for food for children by providing super cereal plus for malnourished children.
“Early identification will ensure children who are moderately malnourished to not deteriorate to becoming severely malnourished.”
In addition, GOAL will strengthen the technical skills of health workers at health facilities, while improving the physical resources to allow for the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of acute malnutrition cases.
The project will implement the Family MUAC (Mid-Upper Arm Circumference) approach centred on empowering the whole family to take measurements and keep track of their children’s nutritional status.
This start of the Echo-funded project comes in light of a worsening humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe due to hyperinflation, drought, crop failure, Cyclone Idai and the Covid-19 outbreak.
According to the Humanitarian Needs Overview (2019), at least 5.1 million Zimbabweans are in need of food assistance, while 1.6 million people are facing life threatening needs.
GOAL has been implementing nutrition emergency interventions and supported the integration of CMAM with the Ministry of Health and Child Care services from since 2009.
In 2019, through the Civil Protection Unit (CPU), GOAL provided active screening for malnutrition to Cyclone Idai affected communities in Chipinge and Mutare.