A Baby, Pride of the Population in Madagascar’s Mizilo Gare Commune
With the signature chubby cheeks and plump thighs of a well-fed, healthy baby, Justina charms the villagers in Mizilo Gare, the small Malagasy commune where she lives. They admire Justina’s good health and consider her mother, Justine, a role model for other mothers in the community.
However, there is no special recipe for Justina’s good health. Since pregnancy, Justine has followed the recommendations of Felinisoa Razafindramaro, Mizilo Gare’s community health volunteer. Justine abided by Felinisoa’s advice to attend prenatal appointments at the health center, ensures her whole family sleeps under insecticide-treated bed nets every night, and exclusively breastfed Justina during the baby’s first six months of life.
Once Justine began offering Justina complementary food, she followed nutritional guidelines outlined in a book provided by Felinisoa.
Originally trained by the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Santenet2 project, Felinisoa attended a five-day refresher held by USAID|MIKOLO in 2014. Led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), USAID|MIKOLO works in 6 of Madagascar’s 22 regions to empower the Malagasy people to adopt healthier behaviors and access integrated family planning, reproductive health, maternal, newborn, and child health, and malaria services. The training covered community sensitization and the management of malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea in children under five years of age.
Justine brings Justina to Felinisoa’s monthly growth monitoring sessions to closely follow the baby’s weight, and never misses a vaccination day. Justine says:
It is very important for me to keep my baby in good health. That’s why I never miss a vaccination and always try to stick to Felinisoa’s advice on baby food.
For all of her hard work and attention to Justina’s care, Justine is rewarded with a happy, healthy, thriving baby.