1 in 3 child deaths in hospitals in South Africa are linked to moderate to severe forms of malnutrition It usually takes just one infection for the health of malnourished children to deteriorate and for their lives to be at risk.
Lesego Ndhlovu is a paediatric gastroenterology doctor. While on internship in rural South Africa, she observed wards full of severely malnourished children. She also noticed that only few mildly malnourished children were seen by medical professionals and were only taken to hospital when really sick. As a result, failure to rehabilitate mildly malnourished children was putting their health at risk. Together with her friend Dr Keketso Mopeli-Tshehla she co-founded Marotholi Outreach to address this.
“A simple infection can quickly progress to severe illness for malnourished children. It is important to attend to them before this progression. ”Dr Lesego Ndhlovu
Marotholi Outreach reduces the number of malnourished children in vulnerable communities in Motsoaledi and Tembisa townships in South Africa. It undertakes nutritional screening of children below five years and offers one-on-one nutritional counselling to care givers of children at risk of malnutrition. All children at risk aged below two receive, in addition to the counselling, a highly nutritious therapeutic food pack to help reduce malnourishment.
Marotholi Outreach is among nineteen organisations that are currently enrolled on the Youth Ventures Programme (YVP). Through the YVP, QCT provides youth-led organisations with flexible funding, practical tools and technical support, and access to a global network of young leaders for 2+ years.
With QCT’s support since March 2022, Marotholi has been able to:
Screen and rehabilitate 287 children in Tembisa and Soweto townships
Ensure a consistent supply of ready-to-use-therapeutic foods, for children assessed as malnourished
Hire a project coordinator and migrate to paperless data capturing, enabling founders and volunteers to see more children
Rent office space that doubles up as equipment storage space
Strengthen its systems and processes in finance and governance
“ We are incredibly grateful for the support we have received from QCT, both monetary and technical. Through this programme we have been able to successfully expand to a new site, allowing us reach more children. It has also enabled us to more effectively rehabilitate children through more efficient screening processes and the procurement of rehabilitation foods.”Dr Lesego Ndhlovu
Future work supported by QCT in 2023:
Marotholi Outreach aims to set up operations in a third site and screen more children.