Seven months old Mariam gets another chance to live and survive

Thanks to the UNICEF-supported nutrition programme, she is recovering from severe malnutrition

Amna was about to lose her daughter. She never imagined that her daughter would end up on a hospital bed. She dreamt of seeing her daughter play and have fun like her other siblings, but the disease soon let her down.

Amna Sidna is a mother of five children between 7 months and 10 years old. Mariam, who is 7 months old, is the youngest and the only daughter among four boys. Amna and her family live in remote Koritt, located in Tokar, in the Red Sea State, in eastern Sudan.

Mariam has suffered from health complications, such as fever, diarrhea and thin since birth. Her condition worsened by the day, until her parents sought help to save their daughter who was about to die, since she weighed only 4 kg, and 75 cm tall.

Amna was often disturbed by her daughter’s continued but had little to do since she lives in a remote area with limited access to information and limited family income.

We asked Amna about her nutritional habits during pregnancy, and she said: “I was sick while pregnant with Mariam, and I took all vaccinations and medicines. I used to have only two meals per day, which consisted of bread and milk. I also drank coffee, since it is my favorite drink, and I didn’t drink a lot of water because it wasn’t always available.”

Amna did not breastfeed her daughter, Mariam, immediately after birth and did not have access to supplementary foods after the first six months. Instead she was fed on goat milk.

After examining baby Mariam, it was discovered that she suffered from severe malnutrition, so she was immediately transferred on December 29, 2020 to Tokar General Hospital, in order to receive treatment at the inpatient therapeutic care center.

Mariam is currently receiving treatment at the inpatient therapeutic care center at Tokar General Hospital under the supervision of health care workers. She has been receiving the necessary medicines, vaccinations and nutritious milk. Her mother, Amna, has also got guidance about the importance of breastfeeding and proper nutrition.

Malnutrition is more than lack of food. It is a health condition caused by lack of protein, energy and micronutrients consumption, poor care, wrong feeding practices and taking unsafe water. In Sudan, 35.5 per cent of children under the age of five face the risk of malnutrition annually and fail to reach their full development potential. Reasons for malnutrition in Sudan are numerous, including poverty, conflict, lack of access to adequate food basic health care services and lack of information about proper feeding habits like Amna.

Babies need proper nutrition during the first 1000 days of their lives, starting from the beginning of the mother's pregnancy, until their second year. Proper nutrition is necessary for their growth and development of their full potential. Breast milk is considered the best food for the health and growth of the child during this critical period, as it provides all the vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antibodies that the child needs in order to grow.

Mariam's father says - "If I knew this would affect my daughter's health, I would have worked hard to provide her and her mother with the necessary food, despite the economic conditions we are going through."

Health workers will continue following up on Mariam's condition until she regains her health and can enjoy a normal life. UNICEF thanks USAID for its continued support to the Toker General Hospital and the Nutrition Programme, through which the lives of many malnourished children are saved.

By Hadeel Agab Ashi


UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Children’s Fund