Sarah and I just returned to the US after spending a week in Socorro conducting fecal exams, testing children for anemia, and catching up with families in the community. There still appears to be a high incidence of helminth infections, which we are hoping will decline as our clean water project progresses over the next three months. Anemia rates are also high, and we are accordingly exploring new treatment options.
Anita testing children for anemia. Credit: Sarah Messmer
During our home visits, we were able to check up on some of the sicker children of the community and evaluate Wuqu’ Kawoq’s child nutrition program. Community members expressed their content with the work of Mayra and Caty, two social workers who are now responsible for the majority of program implementation. In addition to working with us while we were in Socorro, they worked with community volunteers to deliver Incaparina and dewormers to the community.
Mayra, Caty, Ruben, and Tisha on their way to deliver Incaparina. Credit: Anita Chary
We were pleased to see several children who have made great strides in their growth since Sarah and I left six months ago. With continuous primary care, nutritional supplementation, vitamins, and iron, some of the community’s most severely malnourished infants are now running, jumping, playing, and talking. We had fun visiting with the older children, as well.
Wilber. Credit: Sarah Messmer
Fevin Liset. Credit: Anita Chary
Sarah encourages Jose Antonio to wear his glasses. Credit: Anita Chary
However, we noticed that several infants had grown weaker and sicker since our departure in July. One of Wuqu’ Kawoq’s major findings within this community is that malnutrition begins at about 6 months of age, in part due to delayed introduction and contamination of early complementary foods. We are thus in the process of re-shaping the program to target malnutrition in early infancy.
At the end of the week, we spent some time celebrating the holidays Socorro-style by making tamales with two community leaders, Maria Tahual and Toribia Suhul, who are an integral part of the child nutrition project.
Toribia making tamales. Credit: Anita Chary
Maria making tamales. Credit: Anita Chary
Thanks to the Gephardt Institute for Public Service, Washington University in St. Louis, for contributions to this trip.