Many of the children with cancer in our programmes are malnourished. This often stems from their illness – they may find it hard to swallow, have an upset stomach or no appetite. It is also a result of living in poverty with limited access to protein-rich foods.
World Child Cancer helps support children’s nutritional needs in a number of ways. Children receive the food and supplements they need, both while they are receiving treatment and after they leave the ward.
Providing high protein formula drinks, vitamin supplements and snacks helps children to build up their strength. This helps them tolerate the effects of chemotherapy and recover more quickly.
Educating healthcare workers – in particular nurses – on how to correctly meet each child’s needs is also an important focus.
As well as meeting the child’s protein and energy requirements, staff are encouraged to provide the children with choice and variety where possible. This is proven to help prevent them from losing interest in food.
“If the child is old enough, I will sit down with them and explain to them why nutrition is important and have a conversation about what they would like to eat. For younger children, it is important to educate the parents and talk to them about what their child needs and which foods are safe and unsafe to eat.”
Involving parents is also key if children are to thrive beyond treatment. In Mbingo, Cameroon, a nutritionist was engaged at the ‘We Care’ Parents Home. They provide dietary counselling and teach families how to make nutritional meals with locally available food.
Often the parents who accompany their children have left their homes and their livelihoods and so cannot afford to eat properly. World Child Cancer ensures that they also have access to healthy meals as they go through this challenging time.
Could you help support families of children with cancer? £17.50 could fund nutritional support for a child and their family during treatment for cancer in Cameroon for a whole week.
Click here to download our free, nutritionist-approved recipe e-book
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Together we can close the gap in childhood cancer care.