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UNICEF: Fighting Undernutrition in Cameroon
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UNICEF: Fighting Undernutrition in Cameroon

In a country where it's common for people to survive on just one grain-based meal a day, many children are malnourished. Supported by UNICEF, volunteer community health worker Sara Djanatou has made it her mission to educate families about eating more healthily. 

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Produced by UNICEF Television.

Learn more about UNICEF's efforts to curb malnutrition in Cameroon.

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
Daily life in the village of Tchonchi in northern Cameroon revolves around preparing the main meal of the day. It's usually a dish of dried sorghum mixed with water. It's not a balanced diet but poverty and a lack of knowledge on the need for protein and vitamin-rich food has resulted in soaring malnutrition rates in this part of the country. Fifty-one thousand children die every year in Cameroon from poor nutrition, many of them in the northern region. Volunteer community health worker, Sara Djanatou, has made it her mission to educate villagers on eating more healthily. She travels up to 15 kilometers a day, going from house to house to spread key messages about nutrition under a program supported by UNICEF and the Ministry of Health. She visits Maboule Marie, a mother of 12, to check on the progress of her children. Her youngest, a set of twins, are severely malnourished because they haven't been fed a balanced diet. The effects have been crippling. At the age of two, the girls are still unable to walk. Maboule is also undernourished. A vital part of Sara's work is to teach families on the importance of eating a variety of food. It's common in this region for villagers to survive on just one grain-based meal a day. Vegetables are limited and they can't afford to buy meat.
MABOULE MARIE [mother of 12]
It's really difficult for me to feed my large family. I pray to God that I don't have any more children because we can't afford to feed them properly.
VOICEOVER
Maboule takes her children regularly to a local UNICEF-supported health center, following advice from Sara. Here they're given energy- and protein-rich food fortified with vitamins. As a result, the twins are steadily gaining weight.
DENIS GARNIER [Nutritionist, UNICEF Cameroon]
In this northern region we have 100,000 malnourished children with rapid weight loss. The program, which covers 11 out of the 41 districts here, has made it possible to treat 5,000 to 10,000 children. We are looking for funds to scale up this program.
VOICEOVER
For more severe cases, life-saving treatment is available at the local hospital. A team of UNICEF-trained doctors are able to treat complicated cases by providing emergency therapeutic feeding. Doctors here say scaling up the feeding program in the north is essential in the fight against malnutrition, and key to giving Cameroonian children a healthier future. This is Salma Zulfiqar reporting for UNICEF Television. Unite for children.