The center is growing its own food to feed patients and teaching mothers how to provide better nutrition for their children. Malnutrition deaths in this area went down by 20 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 and another 15 percent in the first quarter of this year, said Dr. Florent, director of the hospital that operates the nutrition center.
The center is part of the Congo Covenant Church’s medical system and sponsored in part by the Paul Carlson Partnership.
When Florent took over leadership of the hospital last year, 40 percent of the children he treated were malnourished.
Some required simple diet changes whereas other children, with severe malnutrition, needed urgent medical intervention.
That led Florent to start the center, which opened last fall. To begin, Florent and his team started with the available assets in their community. That included investing in a moringa garden and a building to be used for both food storage and hands-on education with mothers.
The moringa oleifera leaves are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, so they are ideal for mixing with other foods the mothers are accustomed to preparing. Many women bring cooking supplies to the hospital in order to make meals for themselves as well as for patients.
The nurse assigned to the center works with mothers as they prepare food and helps them to add nutritional value to what they feed their children, said James Fischer, PCP director of economic development. Sometimes that means adding moringa, and women are also taught how to incorporate beans into their diets, how to use fish with certain local sauces, and about the value of eggs. Additionally, they discuss things like meal frequency and hygiene.
“Dr. Florent and his team have achieved amazing results by working with local resources to creatively address community needs,” Fischer said.