Plumpy’Nut: A Life-Saving Treatment

November 19, 2021
Photo by Hugh Kinsella Cunningham

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where Concern has operated for over a quarter of a century, there is no shortage of natural resources. The beauty of which clashes against the longest-standing and most complex humanitarian crisis in the world. For over two decades, recurring endemics of cholera, measles, Ebola, and now the global COVID-19 pandemic have mixed with factors of violence, displacement, and climate change. Creating a toxic cocktail of devastation – with millions of Congolese on the precipice of famine.

Annie’s Story – In Her Words

Annie Mbuyu lives with her husband and three children, including a 10-month-old Mamadon, who is suffering from acute malnutrition. In 2016, when conflict broke out in their village, Annie and her family had no choice but to flee their home and hide in nearby forests. When it was safe to return home, they did so, but it was no longer the same.

When conflict broke out, “the whole village fled… the fighting was when our problems with malnutrition started, because it was complicated to find food.” Under these circumstances, Annie says money and work are hard to come by.

“We wish there was work in our villages and sometimes when the children are sick, my husband has to stay and watch them instead of going to work…to find money we go to work on other people’s fields, that allows us to at least buy small items for the household.” 

Without electricity and the inoperative taps, “the water is not very drinkable” so Annie and her family are forced to use water from the river. Thus, at dawn and dusk, families collect water from the river and with it the risk of malaria, typhoid and cholera.  

Annie Mbuyu is seen preparing cassava at home in the village of Kiambi with her sister in law Apoline. (Photo: Hugh Kinsella Cunningham/Concern Worldwide)

Annie says that constant sickness is also a financial burden.“The big problem for me is illness [in the family], when we have a little money, we spend it on the illness and food.” These extreme conditions led to Annie’s baby Mamadon, to develop severe acute malnutrition.   

“He was born healthy but at a certain time he developed a disease that prevented him from eating, so he started losing weight.”   

Kiambi Health Center

Malnutrition is rampant in the region, and Annie feels helpless when she cannot feed her children. “When I don’t have food to give to the children, and they start to cry, I feel sick… when they have not eaten anything they do not stop crying.”  

However, with the support of the Kiambi Health Center, funded by Concern Worldwide, Annie’s child received lifesaving treatment. “The reception given to us by the nurses was good, and I felt at ease right away…he was taken care of with nutritional treatment, and I am happy.” 

Stand with Concern in the fight for Zero Hunger

Concern supports the humble Kiambi Health Center because it is strategically located to support eight key areas to ensure the health needs of an extremely vulnerable conflict-affected population. The center provides amoxicillin, vitamin A, albendazole and ready-to-use therapeutic food to addresses acute malnutrition in children and pregnant and lactating women in the area. With training and resources, Concern aims to lessen the statistics of 7% percent of children under five who are acutely malnourished or wasted and 42% of children under five who are stunted in DRC. 

Treatment consists of ‘plumpy nut’ emergency food is intended to promote rapid weight gain and keeping the health of malnourished children from degenerating further. (Photo: Hugh Kinsella Cunningham/Concern Worldwide)

The treatment is called Plumpy’nut, a ready-to-use therapeutic food that promotes rapid weight gain. The center also teaches parents about creating a healthy diet and educates on warning signs of malnutrition. 

With ongoing treatment, Annie is hopeful, “I am satisfied, with these treatments he will get better and be like all the other children… and be able to go to school one day.”  

For more than 50 years, Concern has been dedicated to ending extreme poverty, whatever it takes. However, no government, organization, person can solve extreme poverty on their own; we all play a role in making the future brighter for Annie and Mamadon. The difficulty of getting aid to those like Annie’s son escalates in times of conflict. As a highly isolated zone with no mobile network, poor roads, and natural barriers of rivers, Kiambi is incredibly challenging to deliver life-saving aid. Yet, with your support, this is where Concern goes. 

Plumpy'Nut: Treatment to #CancelHunger