Written by Elmard Rigan.
Agnes Mutinda makes her way to Tabitha Medical Clinic with her nine-month-old son Peter held to her chest on a chilly and drizzly morning in Kibera. She wears a smile as she enters CFK Africa’s nutritionist’s office. She exchanges pleasantries with the nutritionist, Esther, as she preps her son on the couch for his vitals to be taken.
Visibly impressed, Esther congratulates Agnes on the growth of her son who has achieved key developmental milestones.
Navigating Health Complications
“Peter’s story is nothing short of a miracle” says Agnes as she looks at her son’s face.
Peter was born at home, preterm, weighing only 2 kgs (4.4 lbs). Unbeknownst to her, the home delivery meant Peter was exposed to multiple health complications.
Agnes noticed Peter developing breathing difficulties and that he often looked tired. After various tests, Peter was diagnosed with tuberculosis when he was only 6 weeks old. He also developed convulsions, which caused a great deal of distress for his mother. Agnes took Peter to Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, the country’s largest teaching and referral hospital. For two months, the hospital setting was their new home, and thankfully, Peter was cured of tuberculosis and the convulsions also ceased.
Referral to CFK Africa
Despite Peter’s health status improving, one aspect of his health still puzzled the medics – his weight. After he was discharged, he was still showing no progress in gaining the weight needed for healthy development. A community health promoter suggested that they should visit CFK Africa’s Tabitha Medical Clinic, which offers primary health care to residents of Kibera and its environs.
Agnes heeded the call and took her son to the clinic and was enrolled in the Child Welfare Clinic. Through continuous medical assessments, education on nutrition, insistence on exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, and growth monitoring and promotion, Peter’s nutrition state greatly improved. Proper breastfeeding can reduce infant morbidity by more than 60%, reducing the risk of disease for infants and enhancing cognitive ability.
From weighing 2 kgs to now 4.3 kgs (9.5 lb), Agnes can’t hide her joy as she refers to the initial records of her son’s weight in Peter’s clinic attendance register. She emphasizes and encourages other lactating mothers on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding which she was not keen on. “Breastfeeding has made a really important difference in my child’s development,” said Agnes.
As we commemorate World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7, Agnes is an inspiring testament to how breastfeeding can support maternal and child health.
Despite the challenges she faces as a casual worker and with inflation impacting vulnerable communities in Kenya, Agnes remains motivated to provide a bright future for her son. In the spirit of this year’s theme, “Let’s make breastfeeding and work, work!” Agnes embodies the resilience and determination of mothers who strive to balance work and caring for their children.
“Peter’s growth and development is my main motivator,” said Agnes. “Thanks to CFK Africa, I now know the important benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers.”