Transforming Lives: BWA’s Prenatal Supplement Program in Cameroon

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

 Transforming Lives: BWA’s Prenatal Supplement Program in Cameroon

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Acute malnutrition among pregnant women and girls and breastfeeding mothers has increased by 25 percent in the past two years in a dozen countries, for the most part all located in sub-Saharan Africa, including countries where Bread and Water for Africa® works such as Chad, Ethiopia and Kenya, according a UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) report in March.

“Poor nutrition in pregnant and breastfeeding women can lead to weak immunity and complications during pregnancy and birth,” stated ABC News in its coverage of the UNICEF report. “Some countries in sub-Saharan Africa have in previous studies recorded high infant mortality rates due to various complications.

“Ensuring that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers have access to nutrition services and supplements has also been recommended in the report.”

While Cameroon is not listed as among those with the highest rates of acute malnutrition for pregnant women and girls, we know firsthand of the great need for multiple micronutrient supplements in the country through the efforts of our partner there, Esther Ndichafah, founder and director of Hope Services, which operates hospitals and clinics providing free healthcare to impoverished individuals, particularly pregnant women and young mothers.

Following a previous shipment by Bread and Water for Africa® of micronutrient vitamins, provided by our long-term partner here in the U.S., MAP International, Esther reported more than 2,000 women throughout seven regions of the country, including 400 pregnant women (several who “depended entirely” on the vitamins as their only prenatal supplement) who were treated a more than 40 health facilities which received the supplements.

Esther also told us that 80 percent of the women and girls who received the micronutrient supplements “reported an increase in appetite and relief from chronic pains.”

However, the best news of all was that “100 percent safe deliveries for all women who effectively used the micronutrient supplement for prenatal.”

Among them was 20-year-old Melanie Ntumfon who Esther told us was an internally displaced person from the unstable northwestern region of the country who fled to Douala “because there was regular gunfire and many civilian casualties around her due to the Anglophone crisis” and was living with a relative who had taken her in.

When Melanie became pregnant, she received little support from her relative “because her situation was unexpected and demanding on the family assisting her,” said Esther.

So, she turned to Hope Services Hospital there and during her first prenatal visit, she was given prenatal multiple micronutrient supplements “which was a great relief for her.

“She took it regularly for as long as the midwife prescribed, and her appetite increased very dramatically.”

As for Melanie who gave birth to a healthy child, “I really appreciate Bread and Water for Africa® and Hope Services for all their efforts in helping me and every pregnant woman with this vitamin.”

In 2022, The Washington Post reported that “Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 66 percent of all maternal deaths in the world” and fewer women give birth in West and Central African countries than anywhere else.

At Bread and Water for Africa® we are doing all we can – including arranging for another shipment soon – to prevent such needless deaths by shipping prenatal micronutrient vitamin supplements to our partners who distribute them to women in need such as Hope Services, our U.S. partner which supplies the vitamins, MAP International, and, of course, our compassionate and generous supporters who made it all possible.

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