Thulani battles hunger

A practice left over from the early missionary days, staff still start each day at the hospital with a prayer and a song.

Thulani has become an eager participant in the early morning ritual, but for most of the day he sits on his chair in front of a heater, despite the fact that the heat outside is almost unbearable.

He arrived at Sipetu on October 18. Community service doctor Helen Ford immediately diagnosed Kwashiorkor, a form of severe malnutrition identified externally by swollen face, hands and feet.

“Thulani was also complaining of painful eyes, his hair was thinning and he had skin lesions, further signs of Kwashiorkor,” Ford said.

He was also anaemic with traces of septicemia (infection in his blood) and has since tested positively for tuberculosis.

Thulani has been in the care of an aunt in Lusikisiki after his mother left to find a job in Cape Town.

“He has been living on potatoes, mealie pap, some vegetables and samp,” Ford said.

Thulani was immediately put on to formula feeds and treatment in accordance with the World Health Organisation’s protocol for malnutrition. He is now almost ready to return home.

“We have been speaking to the aunt in an effort to make sure Thulani is given a more balanced meal, but if there is little money in the house. Foodstuffs containing luxuries such as fat are out of reach,” Ford said.

“This is also why Thulani only arrived at the hospital once he was really ill. Money for transport is a problem and also the road is really bad from Lusikisiki,” Ford added.

Thulani has now been referred to a social worker and will be receiving a child grant.

But it will be stopped once he is seven years old as he will then be too old to qualify for government’s child grant. – health-e news service.

See the main story on Beating back hunger


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