Worried mothers with babies on their laps fill all available floor space at the Sector 6 health center in the district of Kaya in north central Burkina Faso, where Aminata Zabré, the center’s longtime Head of Nutrition, is conducting a mass screening for malnutrition.

“We found many, many malnourished children, malnourished breastfeeding mothers and malnourished pregnant women,” Zabré says. “Today, we have many new cases that we will treat.”

Escalating violence in Burkina Faso has pushed 2 million people out of their homes in search of safety. Water scarcity and food insecurity are on the rise, making it harder and harder for parents to feed their children.

Ten years ago, Zabré treated approximately 100 children annually for acute malnutrition. In the first quarter of 2022 alone, that number jumped to more than 600. “I love children and I dedicate a lot of my time and energy to do my work and to make sure no child that comes to me is left unattended, even if it means I have less time for my own family,” she says.

A second chance for malnourished children in Burkina Faso:

At the health center, each child is weighed and their upper arm circumference measured. If the tape is in the red, the child is suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and needs immediate treatment with Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a nutritious peanut paste that can restore a malnourished child to health in a matter of weeks.

UNICEF Is by far the largest supplier of RUTF in Burkina Faso. Supply has been uninterrupted in previous years, but with the growing number of children and rising prices of therapeutic food, UNICEF needs additional resources to make sure no malnourished child is left behind. 

UNICEF and partners are aiming to reach hundreds of thousands of acutely malnourished children with lifesaving treatment this year in Burkina Faso. Your contribution can make a difference. Please donate.

Top photo: Aminata Zabré oversees nutrition services at the UNICEF-supported Health and Social Center in Sector 6 in Kaya, Burkina Faso. © UNICEF/UN0662356/Cisse. Video edited by Tong Su for UNICEF USA.