Nine-month-old Yonathan has been losing weight and not growing taller for the past couple of months. This is because he is malnourished, and is not getting the calories, protein, and nutrients he needs to grow. His mother is worried that he is not growing, and has noticed that his appetite has decreased. His energy level has been lower than normal, and he hasn’t wanted to play as much as he used to. In the long term, he could face risks such as decreased IQ, chronic diseases, and subsequent low earning potential if he does not receive treatment.
Yonathan lives with his family in a one-room adobe house in Guatemala. If this story sounds familiar it is because Yonathan’s twin brother, Kenneth, is also a Watsi patient dealing with malnutrition. His father works as a day laborer, harvesting crops such as corn, beans, and squash. His mother works at home taking care of Yonathan and his brother. Together they live on about two dollars per day, making it impossible to afford fruits, vegetables, and eggs for Yonathan and Kenneth.
However, for $512 treatment will be possible for Yonathan. Growth monitoring, micronutrients and food supplementation will help Yonathan recover from malnutrition–saving his life now and putting him on track to live a better life in the future. He will gain weight and grow taller to catch up with other children his age. His immune system will grow stronger with the increased caloric intake, preventing him from having any life-threatening situations with diarrhea and fevers. This will further increase his appetite and help him use the extra calories to develop mentally instead of those calories being wasted on getting over frequent illnesses.
His parents will receive the support they need to feel empowered to give Yonathan the diet he needs to grow and develop healthily. Intervention now will prevent the future devastating effects of malnutrition, and give Yonathan the chance to live a healthy and productive life, finish school, get a good job, and escape the cycle of malnutrition and poverty that made him sick in the first place.
“I am worried because my son is not eating like he should,” explains Yonathan’s mother. “I am interested to know what I have to give him to improve his diet.”