In the corridors of the Kasai nutritional centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo, mothers and their children wait for doctors to take care of them.
Susan and her daughter, Rosette escaped conflict in the Kasai region to find shelter in Kikwit in the country’s southwest. But, like thousands of other displaced people, she is desperate for help to feed her child.
“My daughter is malnourished and I have no money to feed her. She started to eat sand because she was so hungry. Now her belly is swollen. I can’t get my daughter medication and have no way of treating her. I’ve got nothing. I’m begging you to help me”, Susan said.
Rosette passed away after this story was filmed.
Baleka Mado came with her four-year-old son Kanu, who is one of 260,000 children who, according to UNICEF, suffer from severe malnutrition. Insecurity means families cannot farm crops or earn money to buy food in the region.
“When we left the bush, it was because of hunger and suffering. When we found a village to rest in, I was told about this hospital where children could receive free medical care and food’‘, Mado said.
Children’s agency, UNICEF estimates that 260,000 children in Kasai are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and are in need of lifesaving treatment.
“They heard about the care offered in this hospital and her mother did not wait, she came immediately with her child and after the clinical examinations, he was declared malnourished’‘, said Nutritionist, Benjamin Chibangu.
UNICEF and its partners say they have treated about 200,000 severely malnourished children in the Kasai region over the past two years.