Managing Acute Malnutrition in NW Syria

Project: Malnutrition Screening, Treatment, and Counseling for Children and Pregnant and Lactating Women in Northern Syria

Facilitated by RPI and implemented on-site by refugee-led partners IPV & HIA (2023-2024) & Orkide (2020-2022)


Background: Few things are more heartbreaking than a child crying in hunger with serious health risks. Yet this occurs at an alarming rate in northern Syria, where the UN estimates 1 in 3 children are stunted and nearly 15% of children are acutely malnourished in the hardest hit areas. This situation is more dire in remote northeast Syria were service providers are fewer in number and farther apart. In what quickly become an emergency, some hospitals reported half their beds filled by malnourished children. Refugee Protection International is partnering with refugee-led nonprofits based in Turkey and Iraq to prevent and treat acute malnutrition in northwest Syria since 2020 and in northeast Syria since 2023.  

Project Summary: Baby Gori is 1 of some 88,000 Syrian children, pregnant and lactating women, and other caretakers reached through RPI’s health and nutrition collaboration with refugee-led implementing partners Innovative and Powerful Vision (IPV), Orkide, and Humanitarian Initiative Association (HIA) – all charities based in neighboring Turkey and/or Iraq. Displaced by a decade of war, Gori’s family is too poor to afford soaring food prices or a visit to the doctor in what remains of Syria’s devastated health system. Livelihoods are even more slim amid COVID-19 restrictions. Gori is seen weekly by the project’s community health workers (CHWs). These Syrian CHWs are screening children under 5 years old and pregnant and lactating women for moderate (MAM) and severe (SAM) acute malnutrition in high-risk areas of Aleppo province, Syria. They distribute fortified food supplements and ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF) from the Nutrition Cluster and counsel mothers in infant and young child feeding (IYCF-E) and COVID-19 protection. The mobile clinic monitors acute cases, provides continued support, and transports complicated severe cases to and from inpatient care.

Thanks to this project, Gori’s mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) has improved from 118mm (MAM) to 127mm. Community management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) and counseling in IYCF-E save lives and stem the long-term developmental impacts of malnutrition. Help us extend this critical support to more children like Gori. In parts of northeast Syria, the general acute malnutrition (GAM) rate reaches 12%, in contrast to the 5% average GAM rate in northwest Syria, according to the Syria Humanitarian Needs Overview for 2023. Maternal acute malnutrition (MAM) is 25% in NE Syria, compared to 11% in NW Syria, risking the health of both mother and baby.

We are thrilled to announce that by mid-2023, we extended our support for CMAM to northeast Syria, thanks to our generous giving partners and to refugee-led implementing partner IPV based in Iraq. Since 2020, these programs have been funded by RPI and received in-kind nutrition supplies directly from UNICEF (for northwest Syria) and Save the Children (for northeast Syria). Thank you.

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