Treating Childhood Malnutrition with Medika Mamba (Haiti, 2009)

St. Joseph Clinic sees about 40 students each month who are moderately or severely malnourished.  Half are severely malnourished.  In Spring 2009, we began a pilot program to treat severely malnourished children (ages 2 to 5 year old) with a nutritional supplement known as Medika Mamba.  Manufactured in Haiti by Meds and Foods for Kids, with mostly Haitian products, Medika Mamba is a peanut-butter product that is fortified with powdered milk, oils, and vitamins.  It has been shown in an extensive body of research to be highly effective in restoring severely malnourished children to health in about two months.

Our plan was to test Medika Mamba on about 100 severely malnourished children in Thomassique to determine if this population responds as well as the children in areas where Medika Mamba has been tested.  The pilot project showed that Medika Mamba is very effective in restoring malnourished children in Thomassique to health.  Based on the results of this pilot project, Medical Missionaries decided to continue the Medika Mamba program and to continue to collect records on its effectiveness.

Children are admitted to the Medika Mamba program when the physician examines them and determines that they meet two criteria, one a weight metric and the other a measurement of the circumference of the arm.  These determine the amount of Medika Mamba the patient will need each week. 

In this photo, Dr. Casseus Faidherme, then clinic director, conducts a screening examination with a potential patient and her mother. Once admitted to the program, the child is given a thorough examination by the nurse.  Follow-up visits every week provide the nurse an opportunity to monitor carefully the child’s progress.

The program coordinator, Ms. Solane Loradin, gives one-on-one instruction to the mother or caregiver, emphasizing the importance of administering the exact dosage every day and not sharing the Medika Mamba with other family members.The program coordinator also keeps careful records of each visit and the amount of supplement prescribed.  It is based on these records that the doctor decides when the patient is well enough to be discharged.  The regimen usually takes two months.

We are confident that the Medika Mamba program is saving children’s lives.  Although the cost of the program ($100 per child) puts a crimp in our budget, we are convinced that it will ultimately benefit the next generation of the people of Thomassique

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