Afghanistan: Treating Child Malnutrition in Helmand
“She was vomiting and had diarrhea, and she kept losing weight,” says Mariam of her five-month-old granddaughter Nazia. “Her mother just didn’t have enough milk to feed her. We went to a private clinic but they couldn’t help us, and finally we drove here from our home district of Sangin. Nazia is feeling a little better now.”
Nazia, who still has a distended belly and a clearly visible rib cage, is one of the patients in the MSF herapeutic feeding center in Boost hospital in Lashkargah, the capital of Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
Boost hospital, where MSF has been working since 2009, is one of only two hospitals in all of southern Afghanistan. Helmand is one of the country’s most war-ravaged provinces, and has seen intense fighting over the past decades. It is home to a largely poor, rural population, even if there are signs of a growing middle class in Lashkargah.
MSF opened its feeding center in December 2011 to tackle the chronic problem of malnutrition among children in Helmand. This specialized unit helps children on the verge of starvation gain weight through assisted feeding.
Photo: An MSF staff member examines a child for malnutrition at Boost hospital.
Afghanistan 2012 © Camille Gillardeau