By Bashir A. Bashir
Fatima Hussaini is 1 year 6 months old and the second child of Mallam Husaini Sirajo and Mallama Talatu. Mallam Husaini Sirajo is a trader who sells grains at the local Kwaya market. The family resides in Garin Hanua, a hard-to-reach settlement of Hausa/Fulani with a population of about 300 people. Garin Hanua is in the Kurba ward of Kwaya Kusar LGA in the Southern part of Borno State. The people are subsistence farmers and herders. The major crops produced are Millet, Groundnut, Sorghum, Maize, Bambara nut and Beans. The Community had no portable water supply. Their main source of water for the people and their animals is waterholes dug from riverbeds which may likely be contaminated due to the daily presence of animals and other human activities such as washing clothes and open defecation.
Fatima was breastfed exclusively and growing healthy until at 7 months when her mother realized that she was pregnant with her third child. The Garin Hanua community has a cultural belief that breastfeeding mothers who get pregnant must wean their babies because the breast milk is contaminated at this time, and babies fed on the breast milk will either die or become ill. Talatu Hussain had no option but to adhere to the cultural belief and wean Fatima. Fatima was fed pap and other household foods that were mainly carbohydrates, and as a result, Fatima became severely malnourished and ill.
In November 2021, during community mobilization on nutrition, SFH-HeRoN field volunteers met Fatima, who was then referred to Primary Health Center Juggal. Because of the severity of Fatima’s condition, she was referred to the stabilisation centre (SC), Kwaya Kusar General Hospital, where she was admitted. On admission, her mid upper arm circumference (MUAC) reading was 9cm, and her weight was 5.2 kg. She had leg Oedema, Dermatosis, Pneumonia and Acute Watery Diarrhea. Fatima was treated with ReSoMal to correct dehydration and fed with F75 2hourly in the stabilisation phase, then RUTF in the transition and rehabilitation phase. After a week of treatment at the SC, all of Fatima’s medical complications were resolved. She was discharged from the stabilisation centre and referred to the OTP site in PHC Juggal for continued outpatient treatment with RUTF and monitoring. As of the time of discharge, Her MUAC reading was 11.5cm, and her weight was 6.9kg. Fatima had gained 1.7 kg, which is 32% of her body weight on admission.