With an estimated 300,000 children in north-eastern Nigeria suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), health and nutrition specialists in three states have undertaken an intensive World Health Organization (WHO) training on how to treat SAM with medical complications. Currently, there is limited capacity to treat such cases in the region.
The humanitarian response in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states aims to reach 2.7million people with various nutrition services in 2017. Providing comprehensive nutrition services, build national capacities, and operationalize stabilization centres, among other planned activities, will require $112,595,211 funding.
“The training on SAM has brought me up to speed,” explained Fatima Mohammed Bukar, a registered nurse/officer in-charge of the WHO-supported Stabilization Centre (SC) at Umaru Shehu Ultra-Modern Hospital, Maiduguri, Borno state.
“As a paediatric nurse in this hospital, I have managed several cases related to paediatric health including malnutrition with medical complications,” Fatma continued. “Yet this is my first formal training on the topic since I started managing a Stabilization Centre in September 2016. I am grateful to WHO for this great opportunity.”
According to Fatima, most of the patients to the SC were referred from the community based screening for acute malnutrition while others were identified at the Out-Patient Therapeutic Programme (OTP) in the IDPs camps and host communities. WHO provides essential medicines to ten SCs across Maiduguri, Jere, Bayo, Kwaya Kusar, Chibok, Askira Uba and Hawul Local Government Areas.
Building national capacity for case management of malnutrition
The training covered many aspects of SAM including principles of care, initial management and emergency care, therapeutic feeding, daily care and roles of caregivers.
For Dr Ahmed Gaji, a medical officer in the paediatric department of Molai General Hospital, Maiduguri, Borno state, the 6-day training on SAM with medical complications is urgent and essential. Dr Gaji has attended five previous trainings facilitated by WHO.
“The training on SAM with medical complications is not just appropriate for me, it is imperative,” says Dr Gaji. “It has improved my knowledge of management of severe acute malnutrition in children. Prior to this training, I scarcely paid close attention to danger signs. Now I learnt that depending on severity, I should retake record of vital signs 4-hourly as well as record temperature, pulse and respiration every 30 minutes.”
Another participant, Dr Adam Baba Geidam, a paediatric doctor in the State Specialist Hospital has learnt how to do many things differently after the training. “Although, I have been managing cases of severe acute malnutrition,” says Dr. Geidam, “I have learnt to do many things differently including that SAM patients should only be given intravenous fluids if they show signs of shock. I will not hesitate to share this knowledge with other colleagues.”
The 6-day training was attended by 24 participants including paediatric doctors, nurses, nutritionists/dietitians from secondary hospitals and primary healthcare centres in central Borno.
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