31 Oct. 2008
PR# 2008-578

Zabul leaders comment on ‘Strong Food’ successes

Zabul Governor Delbar Jan Arman holds a sample of “strong food,” while Dr. Zamarai Sultan, Zabul’s nutrition officer, shows recent statistics on children under the age of five with severe malnutrition.

(High resolution photo)

KABUL, Afghanistan - Health clinic doctors in Zabul province are rallying against malnutrition thanks to ingenuity and ISAF support.

Dr. Zamarai Sultan, Zabul provincial nutrition officer, raised an issue at a monthly provincial health coordination centre meeting.

“A few months ago, we discussed the situation in Zabul: We saw a lot of children faced with malnutrition,” he explained. “Some people in the meeting offered to take on the project, but nothing came of it. We asked Dr. Arnold, who is a physician with the Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team. He accepted our invitation and managed to revive this project.’’

Dr. Sultan already knew how to battle severe malnutrition in children under the age of five; what he lacked was funding. He teamed with Dr. Fazal Rahman, local director for Ibn Sina, which is an Afghan non-governmental organization based in Kabul specializing in health care, and the PRT medical staff. The outcome was “strong food.”

“Strong food” is composed of five simple ingredients combined with liquid vitamins; all ingredients can be purchased by locals. The resulting mixture is a high-fat, sweet-tasting blend provided daily for children with severe malnutrition.

The “strong food” project began in Qalat, the capital of Zabul, but quickly gained popularity due to its results.

“This is a very good program because it’s improving the health of our children,” Rahman said. “In Shahr-e-Safa, the nutrition program leader informed me that in one week the children gained additional weight of between 500 grams to 1 kilogram. I hope that the government will support this program in the future.”

“At first, we were making the ‘strong food’ here and sending it out, but I couldn’t keep up with the demand,” Sultan added. “We trained other doctors and now other health centers can make it. We supervise the program and review the reports from Shahr-e-Safa, Shajoy, Nuorak (in Qalat), Jaldak and Deh Chopan districts. The reports describe the number of patients and the progress they’ve made. This program has had good results. The children are growing very well since we started two months ago.”

Besides funding from and initial research by the PRT, the program has been managed entirely by the local health care officials.

Arnold said, “The reason we picked this project is because Dr. Sultan and his team are very good. The only reason this project is a success is because the local doctors are running it, not the PRT.”

Continued success is depending on additional training, expansion and continued funding.

“Right now, we are supporting the local doctors by buying the ingredients and training them in how to make the product,” he said. “They are quickly becoming experts on how to run this program on their own. The next step would be for the local government to help pick up the cost of the ingredients, which are fairly cheap and all are available on the local market. Once that is done, this would be a successful, completely Afghan-ran program.”

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
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