A RECORD RISE IN MALNUTRITION CASES IN NORTHERN SYRIA, BUT EFFECTIVE SOLUTIONS DO EXIST
BINAA for Development’s rapid response team on full alert to detect and treat malnutrition cases
Cases of acute and chronic malnutrition (stunting) among children in Northern Syria have been rising precipitously for several years. An October 2020 report issued by OCHA revealed a sharp escalation of chronic malnutrition cases in northwest Syria: from 19% in May 2019 to a shocking 34% in December 2020 among children aged between 6 and 59 months.
There is no doubt that these alarming statistics reflect the horrific conditions endured by children and their mothers in the camps. Breastfeeding mothers suffer from shortages of food and the nutritional supplements necessary to continue breastfeeding. Food scarcity, compounded by a lack of clean water supply and other feeding alternatives such as formula milk, means that many of the children in these camps suffer from acute malnutrition.
Many humanitarian efforts and programs are working to resolve this mounting crisis. In partnership with UNICEF, BINAA for Development has taken on the early detection of malnutrition cases and the provision of urgent intervention. The initiative targets a number of camps in northern Aleppo and in Idlib and seeks to reach nearly 25,000 direct beneficiaries (and 69,000 indirect beneficiaries), including 8,300 pregnant or breastfeeding women and more than 16,000 children under the age of five.
To serve such a large number of beneficiaries, BINAA will work at full capacity through its Rapid Response Teams, conducting daily check-ups to detect malnutrition cases among pregnant women and children under the age of five in the targeted camps. Following the checks, the team will refer affected individuals to nutritionists, who in turn will treat them in the camps or other health centers.
Commenting on the program, Mahmoud Al Maraai, member of the BINAA Rapid Response Team, said: “We will work as hard and as fast as we can, to reach the largest number of children possible in the targeted camps before malnutrition puts their lives at additional risk. These interventions cannot be postponed and are a real lifeline for many children and their families in the camps.”
“We will work as hard and as fast as we can, to reach the largest number of children possible in the targeted camps before malnutrition puts their lives at additional risk. These interventions cannot be postponed and are a real lifeline for many children and their families in the camps.” - Mahmoud Al Maraai, member of Binaa for Development Rapid Response Team.
“BINAA has developed a comprehensive intervention plan that begins with forming and training rapid response teams who conduct periodic checks to detect these cases early and refer them to nutritionists to provide them with the appropriate treatment. The plan also includes providing nutritional supplements to children and to breastfeeding and pregnant women, as well as raising awareness about proper nutrition and hygiene,” He added.
This project is part of several other initiatives by BINAA to improve the living conditions in the camps, which include supplying clean water to tens of thousands of residents in the camps on a daily basis and deploying more than 400 workers to collect and dispose of solid waste, provide hygiene supplies to residents, and rehabilitate latrines and sanitation facilities in the camps.