Uhuotaru community, Ohaozara LGA, Ebonyi State, Nigeria, 18 September, 2015 – Uchechi runs out excitedly as she heard to sound of a vehicle arrive her home. As the team approach her compound she smiles shyly and hides runs back to her mum. Just two years old, she lives with 12 other family members in a thatched home, made of mud in a deep rural community two hours away from the city centre in Ebonyi State the eastern part of Nigeria.
Uchechi may look like any other little girl, but she is very lucky to be alive. In March 2015, she was identified as a malnourished child on the verge of dying. Her family is convinced that her recovery – facilitated by the direct intervention of LOPIN-3 project is direct help from God.
Uchechi is the 4th child of her mother Onyiyechi who is pregnant for her 5th child and the 9th child of her Father Chibueze Uzonwogo in order words she is born into a polygamous family. Chibueze is a well-digger and Onyiyechi the mother has no income generating activity. Uchechi and her siblings live in an overcrowded one room with her mother. From all indications, to have a meal a day is a struggle.
On Tuesday March 17, 2015, during in an outreach at Ugwulangwu autonomous community in Ohaozara LGA of Ebonyi State. Oluchi Chialuka a staff in the LOPIN-3 project drew the attention of the team to very ill child who she suspected was suffering from HIV.
Uchechi appeared pale and had no appetite; she was stunted and had rashes in her buttocks. At the outreach, she was weighed, measured and checked was her for other illnesses. Distressingly, they discovered that this little girl was battling two deadly diseases at once: diarrhoea and malnutrition. She was very weak and couldn’t walk in fact her ribs were clearly counted which was a result of severe acute malnutrition
Uchechi at 1year 7 months when she was first found
Chronic malnutrition is a common problem in Nigeria. The UNICEF study showed that malnutrition is the underlying cause of morbidity and mortality of a large proportion of children under-5 in Nigeria. It accounts for more than 50 per cent of deaths of children in this age bracket.
Uchechi’s condition was so severe that she was immediately referred to Federal Teaching Hospital (FETHA 1) Ebonyi State which is about 3-4 hours’ drive from Ugwulangwu. The clinical assessment showed Uchechi had pitting oedema sunken eyes and weight loss, weighing 6.5kg.
For two weeks, Uchechi fed on highly specialized therapeutic feeding, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development Ebonyi State was very supportive in ensuring Uchechi received full treatment. After a critical 3 weeks Uchechi made a full recovery and returned back to her village. . Today Uchechi is visibly healthier and measured in the healthy “Green Zone. She has more hair on her head and is no longer underweight. Also LOPIN-3 provided her mother with clothing and nutrition support while in hospital including basic care needs and hygiene education.
5 months after treatment, Uchechi is now healthier and has recovered from severe malnutrition.
I sincerely thank LOPIN-3 and their for their kind hearts and efforts in saving the life of my little daughter. Our heart is full of joy we lack words to express how we feel seeing our daughter healthy again.
Uchechi’s father, Mr Chibueze Uzonwogo
Disclaimer: This success story was made possible by the kind support from the American people delivered through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of USAID or the U.S. Government.