“What is severe acute malnutrition?” – asks 15 year old Amar while voting for his friends painting depicting severe acute malnutrition during the art exhibition cum competition for local artists organised by the international medical humanitarian organisation, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), in Darbhanga town, Bihar on the 25 th of March 2011.
“ Severe acute malnutrition is a disease which weakens the immune system, increasing the risk for severely malnourished children to die from common childhood illnesses” says MSF medical activities manager, Dr. Shandillya. “People need to acknowledge its seriousness and take action to treat it to ensure the healthy growth of the child. Through this exhibition, we hope to raise awareness of communities on severe acute malnutrition” .
The artists, mostly from Darbhanga and Madhubani districts tried to illustrate severe acute malnutrition and the need for treatment through their paintings.
“Art is a universal language, and since Bihar is famous for its beautiful Maithili art, we decided to develop illustrative messages on malnutrition”, says project coordinator Grigor Simonyan. “This exhibition gives local artists a platform to raise awareness about SAM in their own communities”.
A total of 37 artworks were exhibited, and more than 150 guests attended the exhibition. Among the guests were the paediatricians from Darbhanga Medical College Hospital and student nurses who also came up with a number of questions on severe acute malnutrition.
MSF health educators present during the exhibition spoke extensively on severe acute malnutrition, its prevention and treatment. MSF also provided more information on malnutrition
through their material and a video that was continuously screened on the wall.
All the artworks were numbered, and visitors could vote for the artwork. The best art works selected by the guests were granted prizes and letters of gratitude for their contribution on raising awareness on severe acute malnutrition.
MSF in India believes severe acute malnutrition is a medical condition that should be diagnosed and treated properly, and that this can be done in ambulatory approach for the huge majority of cases.
Since 2008, MSF has been providing healthcare for children aged six months to five years suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Darbhanga district of Bihar. MSF has admitted more than 6000 patients in the program since February 2009. The large majority of these patients were treated on an outpatient basis.
To see pictures from the exhibition click here
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