Nutrition Health Education Session – Prevention rather than cure
Since the opening of our Medical Clinic in Dili in November, an alarming number of patients have attended suffering from moderate to severe malnutrition. Most of these patients are under the age of five years old.
Malnutrition is a major health issue in Timor-Leste. It is the single greatest contributor to premature death and disability as it weakens the immune system and can lead to a heightened risk of illness and disease.
The effects of chronic malnutrition are irreversible if it left untreated by the time a child reaches three years of age. An estimated 50 per cent of children in Timor-Leste suffer from a form malnutrition called stunting – one of the highest rates in Asia.
Although poverty is a contributing factor, insufficient public knowledge of what is good nutrition and the consequences of under-nutrition is a significant cause.
As part of the Order of Malta Clinic’s education initiative, the staff hosted a Nutrition Health Education session, attended by 16 parents and their children.
Dr Joaquina was the lecturer at the session and explained to the parents how to take care and assess a child who is malnourished, while our volunteer Nutritionist, Imaculada Belo, discussed the nutritive value of the snacks that were prepared for the participants. The snacks consisted of Sopa de abobara (potato soup) with buttered toast, sweet potato and papaya.
Whilst being an important health session for the parents, the children were also entertained with an animated video of the alphabet in Tetum, danced to music of popular nursery rhymes and enjoyed the healthy snacks provided to them.
The Order of Malta Clinic would like to offer the Nutrition Program to parents with children suffering from malnutrition on a regular basis. However, ongoing funding is required to continue this initiative.