The CREN (Centre de Réhabilitation et Education Nutritionnel) is our nutritional rehab centre for malnourished children under the age of five. Founded at the SIM Galmi Hospital in 1991, it was the only centre of its kind in the country. Only in 2005 did MSF (Doctors without Borders) establish a nationwide CREN program.
History of the CREN
In the late 80’s the staff of Galmi Hospital began to recognize that many of the children who had been hospitalized for severe malnutrition were being readmitted with the same diagnosis. It was also noted that many sibling groups had been admitted for malnutrition.
The CREN program was started in 1991 as a place where mothers of malnourished children from the local area could find practical help and teaching in child care and learn how to provide nutritious food on a low budget using local ingredients. The emphasis was on hands-on learning, with the mothers involved in preparing the meals and looking after the children.
The CREN was designed to be more similar to a local family compound than the rest of the hospital facility. Initially funded through a grant from the Canadian government, the CREN was able to provide free food and medical care for the children who were admitted.
Why is Malnutrition Such a Problem in Niger
It is estimated that 12% of children under-5 experience acute malnutrition, and there are many socioeconomic factors that contribute to childhood malnutrition. Niger claims the highest birthrate in the world. Often an older sibling must wean too early to allow for the arrival of the newest baby, but the slightly older child isn’t ready to transition to solid food. Other factors include a high frequency of low-income households, large families, high rates of illiteracy among women, and reduced access to education in rural areas.
How the CREN Works
Children are screened through the PMI (our outpatient Under-5 Clinic) for height and weight. Those found severely malnourished are hospitalized, those moderately malnourished are invited to stay at the CREN for 3-6 weeks with their mother, until the child has achieved a more healthy weight.
While staying at the CREN, each child receives any necessary medications, and food is provided for mother and child. Each day the women receive health education and are taught how to introduce more nutritious foods into their child’s diet. Regular Bible teaching is also incorporated into the CREN program.
The SIM Galmi Hospital receives supplies of Plumpy’Nut and F-100 formula from the Nigerien government that are used to help supplement the diet of our CREN kiddos. The remainder of the support for the CREN project comes through individual donations. These funds cover the cost of food, electricity and staffing for the CREN.
How You Can Support the CREN
Interested in supporting the work of the SIM Galmi Hospital by contributing to the CREN?
Choose your country:
Australia (be sure to ask about specifically giving to project #97252)
East Asia (be sure to include project #97252 in the description)
France (be sure to include project #97252 in the description)
New Zealand (be sure to enter project name and number #97252)
United Kingdom (be sure to enter Galmi Hospital CREN #97252)
United States (select “support a project” and search for project #97252)
*Don’t see your country here, link to one of our international SIM offices that are able to accept donations. Please contact them directly, and don’t forget our project number:97252.