2 hours ago I got the news I was dreading and fighting to hear! We lost one of our children, Hassan; a 2 year old male twin.
I met Hassan and his twin brother Hussein, who are both severely malnourished, on November 21st 2017, during one of my trips with (Feed To Grow) to Tudunkofa in preparation for our phase 1 intervention. I remember sharing their story on my page on how their mother is left without support in any form and shape with severely malnourished twin, 2 daughters, 15 year old son and a husband who could care less.
After our phase one intervention in November, it was a huge challenge accessing Ready-to -Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for our 15 critically malnourished children due to lamentable regulatory policies and monopoly of RUTF ( frankly, I am yet to understand why a country with high malnutrition index as Nigeria, does not produce RUTF which is largely made from peanut, sugar and fortified vitamins? But this is an epistle for another day). God so Good, after we pushed so hard, sending out emails, making calls, pulling networks (which seemed unresponsive), at the verge of throwing in the towel, we got an opportunity to partner with a UNICEF sponsored Out Patient Therapeutic Programme (OTP) Center, through one of our great partners; The Nasarawa State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA) and enrolled some of our children.
Hussein and Hassan, were privileged to get into the therapeutic feeding program, which was a distance from home, but their mother was consistent and committed to bringing them in as required, with support from our community volunteers.
Fast Forward to last week, we sent in some of our volunteers from Abuja, who went to the community and the OTP center for monitoring and evaluation of the ongoing program, bringing back reports, one of which was Hussein responding well to the therapeutic food but Hassan was deteriorating. One of our volunteers a foreign medical student, who was present, observed Hassan and reported signs of Fever, Irritability, whole body spasm, arched back and neck stiffness and made differential diagnosis of Bacterial meningitis and Tetanus with the mother denying any history of vaccination. With this feedback, We started consulting the necessary authorities requesting urgent access for hospital referral. Our expert pediatrician was also consulted and we were collectively working on a referral to General Hospital Keffi, when we got the sad news this morning that Hassan, a 2yr old, who deserves the best of life passed on yesterday due to a complication of malnutrition. This may not have been the case, if everyone who had contact with him handled and treated him as their own.
There are so many Hassan’s out there, who don’t deserve to die from lack of optimal food! When we campaign against Malnutrition and put in every effort to fight it, it’s because of cases like this! No child deserves to die hungry or for lack of nutrients!
Hassan died due to a complication of malnutrition, his immune system got so weak and opened him up to infections that his system couldn’t fight off!
Hassan died, because we have a health system that is not proactive for so many reasons, that it took a foreign medical student on first visit to observe his complications, even when he was in the care of trained health workers.
Hassan died because whilst we claim to be the “Giant of Africa” we are still a country with 1 in every 17 child stunted in growth, and over 450,000 severely malnourished (in the northeast alone). To add insult to injury, we do not produce RUTF made from common peanut, sugar & fortified vitamins and would rely on the generosity & monopoly of foreign agencies to access them.
Hassan died because a system he was born into failed him! We all failed him! He might not be your son, brother, nephew or loved one, but he is a child! He deserved the best!
This experience is indeed heartbreaking for me and whilst myself and the team are mourning this loss, we are pledging greater commitment to fighting malnutrition in children under the age of 5!
We can’t win this fight without you. We need your support, your time, your skills, your network, your selfless commitment and your financial donations to prevent the loss of another child. We might not be able to save the world, but we can save a child from dying from malnutrition.
To be a part of our cause please visit: