Severely-malnourished children are restored to health, mothers learn how to keep them healthy, and professionals are trained in diet management.
In Nepal 2 in 5 children suffer from stunting or chronic malnutrition & poor nutrition contributes to more than half of all child deaths — but this issue is remarkably easy to address…
Nepal is a country of extreme and remote terrain. While the economy is dominantly agriculture, production is limited. Further, in rural Nepali tradition, widely available, inexpensive foods such as leafy greens, sprouted vegetables, and raw cruciferous vegetables have been considered livestock feed and not fit for human consumption. For the majority of Nepali people in rural areas, white rice is the main source of food. Lacking adequate nutrients in their diets, mothers are often unable to produce sufficient breast milk which contributes to high rates of malnutrition and infant mortality. Children who survive often face nutritional stunting, mental and physical disabilities, and are susceptible to other illnesses and infections.
The overall lack of awareness in Nepal about the relationship between nutrition and health has resulted in an alarming rate of malnutrition in rural villages while the Nepali government hospitals offer limited treatment programs – focusing on opportunistic infections and immediate remedies rather than preventative and long-term care for the underlying malnutrition.
“Pratik”, a 22 month old boy from a family of 6, was brought to the NRH in Chitawan from a very remote village called Lothar.
The impoverished family ate only two meager meals each day with very little protein. Pratik was suffering from diarrhea and had very little appetite. Frightened by his worsening condition, his parents took him to the government hospital at Chitawan where the doctor referred him to the NRH. At admission, Pratik weighed only 12 lbs. – 6 lbs. below the normal weight for his 27.5” height. With protruding ribs, sparse hair, and ashen skin, he was severely distressed.
Pratik could only stomach liquid (milk) for the first week of his stay. He was then fed healthy versions of the food his family could easily access or grow themselves, while his mother was educated on the importance of nutrition.
With nutritious food, proper medication and care, Pratik’s condition improved dramatically. While he stayed a little longer than the average 21 to 28 days, in less than 6 weeks he gained 5 lbs. and transformed into a healthy and happy boy.
Nepal is filled with children like Pratik. To address this issue, NYF builds Nutrition Rehabilitation Homes (NRHs) throughout Nepal—the only facilities in the country dedicated exclusively to the treatment of malnourished children. With help from supporters like you, these homes have restored the health and vitality of more than 15,000 children since 1998. In 2017, we launched the 17th NRH, in remote Dadeldhura.
During the course of their 3-4 week stay, listless, critically-underweight children are restored to health with a carefully monitored diet. To ensure that the children stay healthy long-term, NRH staff teach caregivers (mostly mothers) how to cook locally available, nutrient-dense foods. The mothers, in turn, return to their villages and share what they’ve learned with others in their villages.
We are proud of our partnership with the Nepali government which ensures that ongoing operations and expenses of all NRHs (except the flagship center in Kathmandu) are transitioned to the government over the course of five years. So far, 15 of the 17 have been fully transitioned to the government as planned. This model ensures long term sustainability of health services people rely on and ensures maximum impact of support like yours.
In addition to this lifesaving treatment, the underlying causes of malnutrition can be addressed through increased awareness of nutritiously combining readily available locally-grown foods and the importance of hygiene. As we’ve transitioned most of our NRHs to the Nepali government, NYF is continuing to expand our reach by bringing Nutrition Outreach camps to extremely remote rural communities where residents are isolated by rough terrain and lack of transportation.