Meet Ana, a 23-month-old girl from Guatemala. Ana and her four siblings live in a one-room adobe house with a tin roof in a rural mountainous community. She loves to play with her doll with her older siblings, and sing to her little brother.
Her parents are farmers, and they cultivate cabbage, cauliflower, and green beans which they sell at the market, and eat what does not sell. Although her parents work hard, they do not make enough money to support a healthy diet for Ana and need support to help her get well—they cannot afford to give her even one egg or piece of fruit per day.
Ana is not growing like she should because she has acute malnutrition. She is nearly three and a half standard deviations below the normal size for her age. This is because she has not had access to a healthy diet—her body has not gotten the protein, calories and nutrients that it needs to grow normally. Her energy is low, she has little appetite, and she has been getting sick more often than the other kids that live in the neighborhood—in the past two weeks alone she has had a fever and cough.
Diarrhea, cough, and fevers can be life-threatening for children like Ana, whose immune systems are weak due to their poor diet. Her mother is worried about her, since she has noticed that she is not growing as well as her older kids. In the long term, Ana could be at risk of stunted neurodevelopment, behavioral problems, and a greater risk of chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.
Growth monitoring, micronutrients, food supplementation, and deworming medication will help Ana gain weight and grow taller to catch up with other children her age. All of this can be accomplished with treatment, which costs $512. Treating her now will have a large impact—she will likely be able to reach developmental milestones just like healthy kids her age.
This treatment will strengthen her immune system, increase her overall caloric intake, and allow her to have more energy to play and learn. Her parents will receive the support they need to feel empowered to give her the diet she needs to grow and develop–they will receive intense and motivational nutrition classes to learn what, when, and how to feed Ana the best diet possible. This will help her start to develop better both physically and mentally, giving her the chance to live a healthy and productive life, escaping the cycle of malnutrition that is making her sick.
“I hope that one day she can graduate and become a teacher,” Ana’s mother shared.