Mohamed Yasser Habibou is one year old. He is the only child of Azima Sani. After a severe episode of malnutrition, he could neither hold up his head nor sit up on his own. Azima has been taking him for stimulation therapy, and rehabilitation exercises provided by HI that stimulate the development of very young children. A success for the little boy, who has become much more autonomous.
Mohamed is now exploring his environment
"Before, I was constantly on the alert with Mohamed. I had to carry him on my back most of the day while I went about my chores. I felt ashamed that he couldn't do certain things. But now he's independent", says Azima, happily.
HI’s physical therapists have taught Azima many exercises to do with Mohamed. These include exercises to keep his head upright and to enable him to sit up in a basket or cardboard box, as well as games that she can reproduce at home using everyday objects, such as a chair or stool. Thanks to these sessions, Mohamed can now sit up on his own, hold his head up and even walk without his mother's help.
Now that he can move around on his own, Mohamed has begun exploring his environment, and Azima regularly finds herself chasing after him. Delighted by this change, Azima wants to share her experience with her sisters in the village to help other children. She is also glad to know that the exercises she has learnt will enable her to protect Mohamed's future brothers and sisters from the consequences of malnutrition.
"Like all the mothers in the world, I hope with all my heart that my little Mohamed will be able to grow up and fulfil his potential. We've been through some difficult times together and I hope that this will help us move forward. I want to see him enrolled in school one day, to see him grow and learn, so that one day he can help his family and his community.”
Millions of food insecure people in Niger
Little Mohamed suffered an episode of acute malnutrition brought on by a severe attack of malaria that lasted a whole week. Azima remembers how the illness weakened her little boy and how his health deteriorated dramatically. Unfortunately, he is not the only one: according to the United Nations, by the summer of 2023, almost 3 million people in Niger could find themselves with severe levels of acute food insecurity1.
"Even if things remain difficult for everyone, we are not to be pitied compared with other families. Today, difficulties due to the rising cost of basic necessities and low agricultural production are increasing the risks for households and can also increase the risk of malnutrition in children," explains Azima.
Play as a therapeutic tool
Stimulation therapy is provided by HI to support the development of children who have suffered the consequences of malnutrition. Play is a therapeutic tool that allows physiotherapists to stimulate the children's interest and encourages them to perform movements to help their physical and psychomotor development.
To address this issue, HI has been running a rehabilitation and stimulation therapy project for malnourished children in the Maradi region since 2022. The project will run until 2026. Since the launch of these activities, HI has accompanied more than 1,300 children in group and individual sessions, provided 30 health centres with adapted equipment, trained 100 health professionals and raised awareness among more than 2,800 parents. Eventually, 30,000 children will benefit from rehabilitation care adapted to their needs and 60,000 parents will benefit from awareness-raising. These activities are made possible thanks to the support of the DGD.