In pictures: Preventing malnutrition in Kutupalong Refugee Camp

Last December, our teams participated in a “Nutrition Action Week” – a campaign in Rohingya Refugee Camps involving all nutrition aid organisations, in partnership with UNICEF and the Government of Bangladesh.

The goal of this bi-yearly campaign was to provide Vitamin A to all children aged between 6 and 59 months living in the camps – around 160,000 children.

Rahim and Abdul*, aged 20 and 19, live in Kutupalong Refugee Camp where they work as Nutrition Volunteers with Medair.

Follow them as they go from house-to-house in the camp to provide Vitamin A to children, as well as nutrition trainings to parents.

Participating in a mass distribution campaign, in an overcrowded refugee camp, during a deadly pandemic is particularly challenging. Before meeting each family, Rahim and Abdul put on a mask, protective gloves, and use hand sanitizer to prevent COVID transmission during the distribution.

“COVID-19 has had an obvious impact on this distribution. In previous years, we received families in our center to provide the vitamin. With the arrival of COVID, we have changed our approach: volunteers are now visiting each household to minimize large gatherings, and stand outside of their homes throughout the visit,” says Rashed Hassan, a Nutrition Expert with Medair.

Before providing a young boy with Vitamin A, Rahim screens him using a mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) tape. This allows Rahim to determine whether the child is malnourished and to track progress over time.

After screening the child, Abdul gives him Vitamin A – which consists of a few drops – with the help of the young boy’s mother.

“Vitamin A is found in fresh greens, dark vegetables and fruit. But in the camp, refugees access fresh vegetables and fruit with great difficulty, due to low availability and purchasing power. We are providing Vitamin A to children to help prevent increased levels of malnutrition,” says Sujan Ariful, Medair’s Nutrition Manager.

Once the Vitamin A has been administered, Rahim checks the feet of each child for signs of oedema, an indicator of malnutrition.

Our volunteers also give a short training to parents, providing valuable information on nutrition screening, supplementary feeding, and the importance of food diversity.

Before Rahim and Abdul conclude their visit, they provide each family with their own measuring tape. This allows parents to track their children’s nutritional status between visits to Medair’s center and decreases in-person contact between staff and patients.

“We received training and information before the distribution, which was very useful”, shares Rahim. “We know this vitamin can help prevent an increase in diseases in young children. When I share these messages with families living here, I feel very good.”

Over 100 of our volunteers, like Rahim and Abdul, led Medair’s efforts to provide this valuable treatment to over 18,000 children, contributing to the overall goal of reaching around 160,000 children with partner organisations.

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Medair is an international humanitarian NGO that provides emergency relief and recovery services to families made vulnerable by natural disasters, conflicts, and other crises. In Bangladesh, Medair works in partnership with World Concern.

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and Global Support Office staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.

*Names have been changed for security purposes.