A health worker weighs Chisomo Tomasi (5) at the Ngabu Rural Hospital's supplementary feeding centre.
Chisomo is the last born in a family of seven. Last month he suffered from a bout of diarrheoa and a fever that left him weak.
''I was worried as he was losing weight'', says his mother, Mercy. ''I rushed him to the hospital where health staff told me that he was suffering from malnutrition.''
Chisomo was admitted in the Outpatient Therapeutic Programme (OTP) at Ngabu Rural Hospital where he is receiving ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF) as part of malnutrition treatment.
Although Chisomo is now getting medical help, Mercy is still worried as her family is struggling to find food. Her family survive by planting maize for food on a piece of land that has been owned by the family for generations. In the past, they produced enough to feed them all year round. But with the changes in climate, the rains have been unreliable.
''Last farming season we only managed to harvest five bags of maize'', she says, adding, ''In the past we could get more than 10 bags from the same land.''
Due to shortage of food, Mercy and her husband have resorted to doing piece work in the surrounding communities to get money to buy food. On a lucky day, says Mercy, they can get at MWK 1,000 GBP 1.08 which they use to buy maize.
''It's difficult to get a job as many people are also struggling as they didn't harvest well. When we don't get job, we sleep without eating but if we manage we may have one meal in the morning and another in the evening'', says Mercy.
Mercy feels the lack of food at her house is the cause of Chisomo's illness.
''He is still so young and to sleep without eating affects his health. I am failing to provide all the necessary foods as we did not harvest well and we cannot find some jobs easily'', she says.
However, she says with the current treatment, her son is getting better.
''His appetite is now back and he is gaining some weight and can now play with his friends'', says Mercy. ''I can see a big change compared to the time he was not receiving chiponde (RUTF).''

Part of story
Object Name
Giacomo Pirozzi/Panos Pictures
Max size
High Resolution
3744 x 5616 pixels
31.7 x 47.55 cm (300 dpi)
12.48 x 18.72 inch (300 dpi)
10.5 MB size on disk
powered by infradox.com