Health personnel from the Comoro Health Center (SSC) have seized 30 packs of a food supplement used for malnutrition after it was resold to a kiosk in Dili.

Health personnel from the Comoro Health Center (SSC) have seized 30 packs of a food supplement used for malnutrition after it was resold to a kiosk in Dili.

Health Center Director Abel B. dos Santos said an unidentified child aged about 11 last year sold the supplement known as plumpy sup to a kiosk owner at a low price.

However, he said health personnel took action immediately after seeing it for sale in the kiosk.

“At that time, we went and seized the packs immediately and none have been resold,” he said at his office in Comoro, Dili.

He said the child had not been identified and the kiosk owner did not know the boy or where he had gotten the supplement packs from.

He said it is suspected that the child stole the plumpy sup from his brother.

The ready-to-use feeding supplement is given to children aged under five suffering from moderate malnutrition to help the body recover.

Children who have been identified as having moderate malnutrition receive 30 packs of the food supplement each month, which must be consumed every day for four months.

If there is still no improvement after four months, the child is then transferred to the National Hospital for further intensive treatment.

Children under five years of age with a mid-upper arm circumference under 11.4cm are classified as severely malnourished, while under 11.5cm is considered moderate malnutrition.

He said the implementation of the program had made significant progress, with the data showing that many children went on to recover well.

A total of 6215 children have received treatment and food supplement packs at Comoro Health Centre. Of that number, 78% had since recovered, according to data from the period December 2015 to December 2016.

He said the center also provided education on good nutrition and how to prevent malnutrition in the family.

The World Food Program (WFP) is working with the Ministry of Health on both the nutrition program and the maternal and child health program. The nutrition program has so far been implemented in six municipalities: Bobonaro, Covalima, Oecusse, Dili, Ermera and Ainaro.

Between 2015 and 2016, health personnel distributed 127 tons of plumpy sup to 13,572 children under five years of age suffering from moderate malnutrition across the six municipalities.

Deputy Minister of Health Ana Isabel Soares has previously acknowledged that the government faces significant challenges to reduce malnutrition rates across the country.

“Our human resources are very limited, including the knowledge of personnel to treat people with malnutrition, especially children under the age of five, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women,” she said.

She said the European Union had allocated funds to UNICEF to recruit 52 health personnel and help implement the nutrition program.

She said UNICEF supplies food supplements for cases of serious malnutrition, while WFP is responsible for distributing the supplement for moderate malnutrition.

Soares therefore called on families who have malnourished children to visit their local health center for treatment and to receive the food supplement.

She said the government and its development partners would continue efforts to reduce malnutrition across the country by increasing communities’ knowledge about the importance of good nutrition for women and children.