Malnutrition and disability disproportionally affect children living in low- and middle-income countries. They are also intertwined, with malnutrition driving disability and disability making children more at risk for being malnourished. Children with disabilities and their families encounter cumulative hardships, such as stigma, food insecurity, and limited access to appropriate care and nutrition services, without the presence of a global pandemic. COVID-19 has likely amplified these hardships, particularly in low-resource settings. The nutrition sector is stepping up to advocate for nutrition as a central part of the response to COVID-19, but only a truly equitable response will protect the children who need it most. An inclusive approach to nutrition is urgently needed in and beyond COVID-19 responses.
To meet the demands of the current health crisis, Smile Train and SPOON, two organizations focused on serving children with disabilities, have adapted and expanded their tools and resources. In this webinar, we discussed barriers to inclusion in nutrition programs, consequences of exclusion, and our experiences with how we have adapted our work during the pandemic. SPOON discussed how they continued to build the local capacity of service providers in adapted nutrition and feeding care for children with developmental disabilities. Smile Train shared some of their interventions for improving nutrition for children born with a cleft lip or cleft palate and their experiences in adapting their programs to the COVID-19 reality.
- Cat Kirk, Early Childhood Development Advisor, USAID Advancing Nutrition and Save the Children
- Carolyn Moore, Policy and Advocacy Advisor, SPOON.
- Zeina Makhoul, PhD, RDN, Nutrition Scientist, SPOON
- Barbara Delage, PhD, RNutr, Nutrition Advisor for Smile Train ad co-chair of the Taskforce on Neonatal Safety of Infants with Cleft for the 2022 International Cleft Congress
- Joseph Kariuki, Program Manager, East Africa, Smile Train
- Miriam Nabie, Clinical Nutritionist at IcFEM Dreamland Mission Hospital and Nutrition Advisor for Smile Train in East Africa