THE COMPLEXITIES OF SUPPORTING A MALNOURISHED CHILD
WE WORK WITH CHILDREN IN INCREDIBLY COMPLEX SOCIAL SITUATION,
MULTIPLE INTERVENTIONS ARE NEEDED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
One of the questions we often get asked at TTF is, once a child is on HIV treatment don’t they automatically get well?
The answer is no - access to HIV treatment is just the first step in what can often be a long journey to good health for a vulnerable child living with HIV. There are a number of factors which can lead to complications in a child’s or adolescents treatment including:
The list can be endless, and there is no one solution which fits all of our patients. It requires medical support, and our counselors working closely with patients to monitor their social situation and lives, including patients and care givers in programmes which will support their current situation.
EMMELY WAS COMPLETELY MALNOURISHED WEIGHING JUST 14.5KGS - HER WEIGHT GAINS OFFSET BY BOUTS OF SICKNESS AND DIARRHEA.
Emmely, 6, is a child who’s complex living situation involved a range of issues highlighted and because of this she had become malnourished. When children living with HIV become malnourished the risk of death increases significantly, therefore TTF have been working with her and her family to lead ensure the best outcome for this vulnerable child.
Emmely came to TTF a couple of years ago having been identified as HIV+ through one of our community outreaches. She lives with her mother, her older sister and her nephew. Having never completed education, both the mother and sister have struggled to find work to support themselves. Food within the 2 room household is scarce. Lack of access to clean water has meant Emmely constantly suffers with worms and diarrhea, she was incredibly sickly and unable to go to school.
In early 2016 Emmely was found to be malnourished, weighing just 14.5kgs (31lbs) and enrolled into the TTF nutritional support programme. Initial weight gains were offset by bout’s of sickness, leading her to be unable to increase in body mass.
Part way through the programme she was moved homes to live with her cousins whilst her mother sought work. Nutritional messages were not being received and food was being shared between too many people to support Emmely in gaining weight.
We tried working with the family over six months, undertaking home visits and regular meetings with the mother but her weight was constantly fluctuating never getting above 15.5kgs. She was becoming increasingly sick and the family complained she didn’t like the foods provided.
After six months of support Emmely was brought to TTF unable to stand up on her own. We rushed her to the hospice where she was diagnosed with Pneumonia. Sadly the interventions we were providing weren’t having the impact and we needed an alternative solution.
Our social and medical team sat together and it was decided once out of the hospice, Emmely needed to be in an environment where her eating could be monitored. We spoke to the mother who agreed and found her a temporary place at a local orphanage where the staff agreed to home and feed Emmely until she could significantly gain weight.
By TTF providing weekly food packages for Emmely in the space of just 6 weeks she gained over 2kgs and her health improved significantly. Emmely is still in the orphanage receiving nutritional support, and for the first time has been able to attend school.
It is with your support, our donors, that we are able to work so closely with Emmely and her family to continue to help her gain weight, improve her chances to have a healthy life and get her the education she needs to enable her to work her way out of poverty.