Turning A Bad Situation Even Worse
Written by Director of Operations, Heidi Cortez
Before the novel Coronavirus ravaged our world, Angola was already extremely food insecure. That means that most of the population lacks access to affordable, nutritional foods. A combination of drought, poor infrastructure, and vast inequality causes this food insecurity. Inequality is readily seen after visiting the prestigious coastlines that are lined with luxurious yachts and then visiting a malnutrition clinic where two babies share a bed, each fighting for its life. It is a country where 93,821 children under five died in 2019 of mostly preventable causes. That was before the pandemic.
Then, the country went into lockdown in March after the capital, Luanda, had two cases of the virus. These lockdowns, although effective at easing the spread of the virus, exploited the inequalities between the wealthy and the poor. While there are those in Angola who can comfortably quarantine, many in Benguela (where Saving Moses works) are food insecure. They depend on services like our clinics to provide for their vulnerable babies and toddlers. These babies and toddlers are susceptible to Severe Acute Malnutrition. This disease wreaks havoc on little bodies with symptoms of edema (fluid retention marked by protruding tummies and limbs), unconsciousness, lethargy, and low weight for height. Essentially, it is starvation. Left untreated, it is fatal.
Anyone who has witnessed a young child suffering from severe acute malnutrition will see the agony of watching a little life fight to survive. It is one of the hardest things to witness.
Saving Moses provides therapeutic milk to combat Severe Acute Malnutrition. Mothers travel to our clinics (sometimes spanning long distances) to receive this vital milk. Saving Moses has provided this service since 2012 and has saved thousands of babies and toddlers.
When the lockdown hit, Angolans were not permitted to leave their residences. Clinics were mandated to discharge current babies and toddlers early. Amidst the backdrop of the pandemic, babies and toddlers suffered at home from Severe Acute Malnutrition with no remedies, unable to seek proper healthcare. Our staff on the ground sought government approval to travel and provide necessary milk during the lockdown.
As the country began to open in May, our clinics saw a spike in clinic admissions. Fortunately, our team secured two therapeutic milk shipments to ensure each admitted baby had enough formula to survive.
We are encouraged that babies and toddlers now have access to the clinics; however, there is potential for a second wave of Coronavirus. That could force another lockdown. To combat this risk, we provide additional rations to babies and toddlers to prepare them if this happens. We continue to watch our on the ground situations to ensure that each baby and toddler has a future.