Chanel is turning 5 years old soon. Hopefully.
Among severely malnourished children, some cannot even reach their 5th birthday.
Malnutrition kills. In fact as of 2013, around 31,000 Filipino children have died from malnutrition-related complications.
Chanel is malnourished. She’s extremely small, thin, and sickly.
Will she make it to her next birthday?
Malnutrition impacts families, PH economy
As Chanel’s 5th birthday nears, her mother Desiree grows more anxious.
The 26-year-old mother is worried about Chanel’s survival.
Desiree is the family’s sole breadwinner, earning P700 ($14) per week as a vendor in a community cafeteria. Her husband used to work as a porter in a fish market, but his severe asthma forced him to stop.
“To buy food, I sometimes I borrow money from relatives or neighbors,” Desiree said in Filipino. “Sometimes food’s not a priority. Sometimes we really have nothing at all.”
“I just want my kids to finish their studies,” Desiree wished.
Malnutrition, however, is an obstacle.
Children like Chanel are more vulnerable to diarrhea, respiratory infections, and anemia.
This disrupts their education; hence as adults, they may experience more difficulties in finding jobs.
Looking at the bigger picture, the Philippines loses P166.5 billion worth of income as a result of lower educational achievement among its workforce who suffered from childhood malnutrition.
Meanwhile, early deaths caused by malnutrition costs the Philippines P160 billion in lost productivity.
Chanel is currently part of Save the Children’s malnutrition treatment program, dubbed as CMAM (Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition).
Aside from diagnosing and treating children, CMAM also trains local health workers and parents on proper childcare, hygiene, and nutrition.
A week into the program, Chanel gained weight, became friendlier and more energetic. Soon enough, Chanel will fully beat malnutrition.
While Desiree’s happy that Chanel is finally getting better, she’s worried that her other children might also fall prey to malnutrition.
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