Malnutrition has remained a major concern, especially among pregnant women, infants and young children in crisis. High levels of food insecurity due to agricultural damages from the destruction of crops and livestock and escalating food prices, have put pregnant and breastfeeding women at high risk, increasing the rate of birth defects among newborns and stunting childhood development.
SRD instituted holistic nutritional programming targeting developing children through our Young Child Feeding (IYCF) campaign. This seeks out pregnant and lactating women, many of whom are living as IDPs and are vulnerable to food insecurity. We aim to equip them with breastfeeding and nutrition knowledge that can enhance the well-being of their children and mitigate negative coping strategies that may harm them. The women receive counseling on the values of breastfeeding, a natural practice that presents numerous advantages in emergency settings, including: delivery of all necessary nutrients to children under 5, enhancement of childhood immunity, and decreasing the need for harmful breast milk alternatives that increase the potential for consuming contaminated water.
SRD’s nutrition programs assist pregnant and lactating women, young women and girls who were married early and children under the age of 5, all of whom are vulnerable groups in need of priority assistance. We have teamed up with medical workers based at medical facilities such as our Maternity and Pediatric Hospitals and our Primary Mobile Health Clinics & Community Health Sites. Our nutrition interventions aim to educate and raise awareness at the household and community levels to ensure a high level of impact for such an urgent issue.
The dire economic conditions in Syria and the impact of the pandemic have led to exponential rates of malnutrition and starvation, particularly for children, 4.6 million12 of whom are food insecure. Vital interventions like ready-to-eat therapeutic foods and infant and young child feeding (IYCF) programs targeting pregnant and lactating women and their children have proven essential for addressing the hunger crisis.
SRD has worked to enhance nutrition services in Syria, and in 2016 we
instituted holistic, nutritional programming targeting young developing children. We are addressing nutritional gaps through preventive and curative practices with a focus on both host and IDP communities who are living in unstable conditions with limited means to a sustainable income.
SRD’s Nutrition Health Services have been integrated into our health network—specifically Primary Health Care centers. in addition to Maternity and Children’s Hospitals, which is part of their services, offer nutritional counseling in addition to IYCF consultations and awareness sessions to enhance pregnant and lactating mothers’ nutritional education and encourage them to breastfeed their children. Moderate acutely malnourished children and pregnant and lactating women are enrolled in supplementary feeding programs, whereas severe malnourished cases are treated through a therapeutic program.
Moreover, SRD integrated nutrition screenings and treatment into household visits through its community health programs. Also, to ensure the presence of emergency lifesaving integrated nutrition services in the operational areas where there are no services present and accessible for PIN, SRD established Rapid Response Team (RRT) program that targets those locations to provide health, nutrition, and child protection integrated rapid services such as triage, emergency aid and referral for children under five, pregnant and lactating women.