Improving Availability of Nutrition Services for Mothers and Children in Liberia
Hawa Collison is 37 years old and a mother of three children living in Kolahun Town, Lofa County. When Hawa was pregnant with her youngest child, Famata (age 2), she went to the government hospital three times for antenatal care. She received IFA supplements and appropriate infant and young child feeding counselling. Hawa told programme staff, ‘Famata was born in Kolahun Hospital and introduced to breastfeeding immediately after birth.’
‘Famata was growing up very well, until in March 2017,’ Hawa explained. ‘Then she started having intermittent fevers, lack of appetite, and diarrhoea. Even her hair colour changed.’
Hawa took Famata to the country doctor at the prayer yard instead of the hospital, since she was told that the illness was due to witchcraft. ‘The country doctor gave Famata herbs for some months, but she didn’t respond to the treatment,’ Hawa said.
Famata was then admitted at Telewoyan government hospital for treatment. She arrived at the hospital with serious medical complications, including typhoid fever, malaria, diarrhoea and oral candidiasis. During Famata’s treatment, Hawa was counselled by trained health workers on appropriate IYCF, with an emphasis on hygiene measures. ‘I am so grateful that my daughter is now recovering because I had lost hope. I thought that I was going to lose my child,’ Hawa said. Famata gained 2.3 kilograms by the time she was discharged.
The Liberia MOH provides nutrition services such as IFA supplementation, support for optimum breastfeeding at birth and counselling on appropriate IYCF practices, among others. The provision of the nutrition services is supported by The Power of Nutrition and UNICEF UK co-investment. The MOH provides human resources for the provision of the services while UNICEF Liberia and its partner Samaritans Purse International provide technical support.
Hawa said, ‘When discharged, I will apply the knowledge I have gained. I now know the importance of different types of foods for the proper growth and development of my children and the hygiene measures needed during child feeding. I will also educate other mothers on appropriate feeding of children.’