Malnutrition is the result of an inadequate dietary intake of vital nutrients and in most cases causes preventable developmental abnormalities or death. St. Damien Pediatric Hospital is the only hospital in Haiti that has a Nutritional Care Unit (NCU).
The NCU has 20 beds and a staff of 8 auxiliaries or assistant nurses, 4 nurses, and 2 doctors all of whom ensure proper care of malnourished children. This program treats children up to five years of age in an effort to help combat Haiti's alarmingly high rate of infant mortality due to preventable causes.
The NCU has an average hospital stay of three weeks. More severe cases can require longer stays, sometimes up to two or three months. Often the NCU patients have multiple aliments: their malnutrition is accompanied by other issues like breathing infection, urinary tract infection, skin infection, diarrhea, and tuberculosis. In these cases we take a two-step approach where we treat the children's infection and implement a nutritional recovery plan for their malnutrition.
The program runs for about six weeks, and provides patients with food packages consisting of F100 (a dried high-energy milk, fortified with vitamins and minerals that are designed to counter the specific biochemical effects of malnutrition in children) and Plumpy Nut (a combination of peanut paste, vegetable oil, powdered milk, powdered sugar, vitamins, and minerals). After they are discharged from St. Damien's, the children attend weekly consultations to monitor their progress through our external malnutrition clinic.
It costs about $14,000 a month to run this program. The room is always at capacity; often facing cases that are not simple to treat. This project will support the costs that St. Damien's faces monthly to keep this program thriving.
Please help our children grow strong.