Poor harvest, superstitions and lack of education are the main causes of malnutrition in Chad.
“Some mums don’t have the means to be able to feed their children. Others do, but they fail to take proper care of them due to a lack of education about hygiene and nutrition. You need to be strong and brave to care for a child here. It’s not easy.”
Dangerous superstitions prevent malnourished children from receiving medical aid:
Mothers often prefer to take their sick child to a religious leader rather than a health clinic. Marabout [Islamic religious leaders] may say Koranic prayers for the baby, give them a plant-based concoction which can be poisonous, make three cuts on a baby’s stomach or cut out their uvula, at the back of the throat.
In the best cases, this can delay malnourished babies getting the treatment they need and, in the worst cases, vulnerable babies, whose immune systems have been weakened by a lack of food, can die from poison or infection.
Though there are provision for malnourished children – medical care is free, but…
It doesn’t help that making the journey to public health clinics in Chad can be expensive , the clinics often don’t have the necessary medicines or enough trained staff, and despite a national free care policy for malnourished children there are often other hidden costs that make it impossible for people in this area to afford this essential care.
Read more below to the NGO, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), understand the challenges of helping the community overcome malnutrition.