This month marks since 6 years since the Syria crisis began, forcing millions of people to flee their homes, leaving them displaced within the country or seeking asylum elsewhere. Red Cross/Red Crescent has been providing life-saving support on the ground since the beginning of the crisis. This story comes from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) malnutrition clinic:
When his mother first brought Munir to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) malnutrition clinic in Al Tal, Rural Damascus, he was so fragile the doctors couldn’t measure him. Munir was five-months-old but weighed just over 2 kilograms – less than his own birth weight. He looked exhausted, worryingly thin, and was unable to sit or hold up his head without his mother’s help. He had a MUAC reading – the standard measurement for monitoring malnutrition – of just 6.1. He had severe acute malnutrition.
This was July 2016. In the following months thanks to support from the SARC clinic (which is supported by Canadian and Japan Red Cross), Munir made an incredible transformation. After responding well to an appetite test, Munir was given a diluted solution of Plumpy Nut, a nutritional supplement. His aunt started feeding him with a spoon and he was eager to eat. Volunteers at the clinic gave Munir’s mother advice on breastfeeding and how to prepare the solution.
At the next visit one month later, he had improved. This time volunteers could measure his height. Munir was 48.6cm tall, and his mother was happy to see his development.
The next visit saw a slight deterioration. The nutrition specialist gave his mother more advice and SARC volunteers did a home visit to check the family’s living situation. At that time they were living in a shelter, away from family support.
By the fourth visit, Munir had remarkably improved. Munir’s father had been able to join the family and they are now living together. His father was heartened by Munir’s improvement and the support from the SARC clinic.
By late November, Munir was a very different baby. Smiling, alert, interested in his world, he now weighed 3.5 kilograms and had a MUAC reading of 10.3.
Now Munir is progressing well. SARC volunteers continue to monitor his health and support the family to ensure Munir can grow up to be a strong, healthy little boy.
The Al Tal clinic opened in June 2016 and just 6 months treated 4,592 cases. Across Syria there are six SARC malnutrition clinics in total, opened in response to the needs of displaced people and those in hard-to-reach areas.
The clinics treat pregnant and lactating mothers, and babies from age 6-59 months.
Volunteers take the MUAC (mid upper arm circumference) reading to determine the level of malnutrition and which supplements and mediation are appropriate. Red indicated a SAM (severe acute malnutrition) case, the most serious. Orange is MAM (moderate acute malnutrition), and green rates as normal, but preventative supplements are given.
You can help by donating to the Syria Crisis Fund.