The Africa Mercy provides state-of-the-art medical care to some of the poorest countries in the world. In addition, the ship’s medical team offers many educational and assistance programs that support these medical services. For example, the Infant Feeding Program aids extremely malnourished infants in receiving vital nutrition.
The Infant Feeding Program helps approximately 20-30 infants throughout a field service. It even assists with weekly transportation costs to ensure that these infants come to the ship on a regular basis. Regular visits are essential to monitoring their progress and assessing any other medical problems they may have.
In addition to babies with cleft lips and palates, other severely malnourished babies are seen as well. They suffer from conditions such as tumours or noma, a gangrenous disease leading to tissue destruction of the face, especially the mouth and cheek. It is vitally important that these children gain sufficient weight prior to surgery.
One of the most common treatments used in the Infant Feeding Program is a natural food supplement derived from the moringa tree. The tree’s leaves are full of proteins and vitamins, and they can be eaten raw, dried, or cooked. The babies gain healthy weight while also boosting their immune systems.
What is the Infant Feeding Program?
• The problem is malnutrition and feeding difficulties
• Main focus is infants with cleft lip and palate and other surgical candidates
• Goal is weight gain, if they don’t gain enough they can’t have surgery!
Why have the Infant Feeding Program?
• Infants with a cleft lip or palate can have difficulties breastfeeding and quickly become malnourished
• Many of these infants need supplemental feeding to grow and gain weight
What the Infant Feeding Program does:
• Provide education
• Provide support
• Provide supplies
• Feeding supplies
Watch Elisabeth’s story below to see the impact the Infant Feeding Program has on infants and their families.