One of our major efforts in Socorro over the last few weeks has been anemia screening among children under 14. We have encountered a spectrum of reactions–some kids don’t even show that they felt a prick, while others scream and cry so much that it turns into a four person job: I end up sticking the child with the needle, the mom ends up holding the child in her lap, an older sibling coos to quiet the screams, and Sarah squeezes the blood from the finger while sticking it into the Hemoglobin testing machine. One of us simultaneously fumbles around in our backpacks for one of our 150 cartons of Lemonheads, graciously donated to us by Alex Zadjel, which often proves to be the saving grace that makes the wailing stop. Although we have not finished with the tests yet, the rates of anemia so far are alarming. Nearly 90% of the children and several of the pregnant women we have screened so far have anemia, which we are treating with iron pills and drops for younger children.
In other news, after the clinic, we managed to collect all of the remaining fecal samples and are happy to say that we have conducted fecal exams on all of the children under 14 in Socorro. About 30% of kids in the village had parasitic infections, all of which have been treated.
Our other large undertaking of the month was starting to provide nutritional supplements of Incaparina, a fortified corn-based gruel, to children under 5 years of age with the highest risk for severe malnutrition. This so far includes a group of 33 children. Supplementing an additional 20% of their daily caloric intake through incaparina has already made a difference for several of the kids, whose parents are happy to see them getting chubbier and rosy-cheeked, playing with more energy, and attempting to take their first steps. We are also gathering information about families’ diets, nutritional habits, and thoughts about receiving food supplements through interviews so that we can better our program and expand our Incaparina operation to include more children in the coming months.