"Unemployment, poverty, poor housing, and lack of basic services cause malnutrition and poor health in our communities. Women and children are most vulnerable."
Philani runs five Nutrition Centres in Khayelitsha (Site C, Site B and Mayibuye), Brown's Farm and Crossroads. Each centre is managed by a Nutrition Advisor. A Dietitian works across the Centres to train staff, advise mothers and oversee the menus for meals provided for our Educare children.
Many underweight children are referred to our Centres from day hospitals and clinics in the surrounding communities, and from hospitals in Cape Town. About a third of the children are brought by their mothers directly from the community. While the children are being rehabilitated their mothers are offered weaving or beadwork training and those children older than two years participate in our Educare Programme. The Nutrition Centres function as a support structure to the government's health services.
Rehabilitating malnourished children
A severely underweight child is invited, together with his or her mother, to attend the Nutrition Centre daily. The child participates in an intensive feeding programme worked out for the specific needs of that child. As HIV/AIDS often presents with malnutrition, a high percentage (25- 30%) of women and children attending the Nutrition Centres are HIV positive. They stay on at the Centres for ongoing nutrition support after having been rehabilitated.
Support and education for mothers
The mother takes part in a nutrition and health education programme and also helps with the preparation of food for her child, to learn in a practical way to meet the nutrition needs of the child. A mother coming to Philani with a malnourished child is often depressed and without hope. With counselling from the Nutrition Advisors and the support of other mothers, she often recovers her strength and courage while attending the Centre.