News / Africa

    Malnutrition Affects Mothers and Children in Ethiopia’s Coffee Growing Region

    In the developing world, malnourishment is a leading cause of death for children under five years of age

    Malnourished child at Dill Hospital, southern Ethiopia
    Malnourished child at Dill Hospital, southern Ethiopia

    Coffee farmers in the Gedeo district of southern Ethiopia grow the Yirgachefe, a highly prized brand within the coffee industry and among connoisseurs. These farmers usually do better than those in the rest of Ethiopia. But recent growing seasons have brought them nothing but despair.

    Drought prevented the plants from producing beans, while the global economic downturn lead to a drop in the price of coffee fell on the global market. The combined effect has left many hungry.

    Some of those affected include malnourished children at the Dilla Hospital feeding center.

    Health worker Mahammed Kedir, who is on a routine check at Dilla, says children here spend a lot of time at home malnourished before they are brought for help.

    HIV and TB compound malnutrition problems

    "This child has been in a feeding center with a cough for one month. There is no improvement, no weight gain, no return of appetite,” he says. “This is most likely related to TB."

    Mahammed is talking about a two-year-old orphan living with her aunt. It's the same for a three-year-old child who came to the hospital with her mother.  Both the mother and the child are infected with HIV, and her husband is dead.

    "She was admitted to the Gedeb feeding center," Mahammed says. They referred her to the hospital with a cough for about more than a month now. We have screened her for HIV and TB, and the tests were positive."

    It’s not unusual for malnourished children with weakened immune systems to also have other diseases, including tuberculosis and HIV. Both may be passed on by their parents.

    Another child with tuberculosis at the hospital is four-year-old Kefyalew. He does not have an adult with him. His 13-year-old brother Markos takes care of him. Markos and his three siblings are orphans. Their mother, who died of tuberculosis, told him that his father was killed by witchcraft.

    Markos’s brother is severely malnourished, with a bulging stomach, bare skull and emaciated body. Markos says Kefyalew started losing his appetite after his mother died a year and half ago.

    Near them, three other children are sleeping in a row of hospital beds. All of them are malnourished.

    Effects of malnutrition

    Malnutrition is a leading cause of death for children under five years of age. It makes them more vulnerable to infectious diseases including TB, and slows their recovery. Those who suffer from malnutrition may never attain maximum physical and mental potential. They may also suffer from stunted growth, and be physically weak and mentally slow.

    Kefyalew, 3, shows his lunch (right) Markos Ayele, 13, oldest of four orphans
    Kefyalew, 3, shows his lunch (right) Markos Ayele, 13, oldest of four orphans

    Malnutrition can also be caused by birth spacing, the frequency between pregnancies. Women’s bodies regain lost nutrients between pregnancies; health specialists say the shorter the interval, the greater the likelihood of stunting and underweight babies.

    Malnourishment also impacts pregnant women. The condition keeps blood from clotting and can lead to hemorrhaging, obstructed labor and death for either mother or child. It increases chances of premature or low-birth-weight and anemia. Also, undernourishment can affect the quality of breast milk, which draws proteins and other nutrients from the mother.

    "I thought he was suffering from evil eye"

    Some parents fail to realize their children are suffering from a lack of nutrients.

    Almaz Buchie and her son Berhanu are also at the Dilla hospital feeding center.

    "I took my son to a clinic near my home village. They said he is severely malnourished, and I need to take him to a feeding center. I noticed he was losing weight. But I thought he was suffering from evil eye. I did not know a food shortage was the problem," Almaz says.

    Both mother and child are HIV-positive
    Both mother and child are HIV-positive

    The evil eye has nothing to do with it. Four-year-old Berhanu is malnourished and looks like a ten-month-old baby. His bones are tiny and he cannot walk. He crawls from his small hospital bed to his mother's bosom, but there's no milk.

    It’s no help that Almaz and her husband are the poorest of the poor in her village. They used to work in other farmers’ fields as daily laborers. But now even the farmers can not even feed themselves. Almaz said times are tough.

    "I have three more kids back home. They are all underweight but not as severely as this one. I don't have the means to feed them, and my husband is not working right now," she says.

    Over the past year -- for the first time in decades – farmers in Gedeo district have been receiving food aid.

    Now Gedeo is green and the rainy season has come. Hopes are high for the next cropping season. But farmers say there is no guarantee the rain fall will be consistent.

    This is part 5 of our 15 part series, A Healthy Start: On the Frontlines of Maternal and Infant Care in Africa

    « Prev: Pregnancy Spacing Series Index Next: Birth Attendants »

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora