by Staff Sgt. Tammie Moore
U.S. Air Forces Central news team
Members of the Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team medical staff used sweets and “strong food” to help hundreds of malnourished Afghan children back to health in October.
The PRT members began a four-week regiment of their “strong food,” known locally as Qavi Ghiza, to the Shajoy hospital two months ago.
“Strong food” is a vitamin-enriched high calorie food supplement used to combat malnutrition. The Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team medical staff is working with local heath officials to combat the main causes of the extremely high-infant mortality in the area such as unsanitary water supplies and malnutrition.
The area’s public health administration staff has been using the low-cost and locally produced food supplement to treat more than 400 malnourished children.
“This program has been going very well and giving positive results. People know about it,” said Dr. Zamarai Sultan, the public health administration nutrition officer. “It is going to be even more successful in the future.”
Dr. Sultan has monitored the “strong food” program in Shajoy closely. In a patient sampling of 60 children, 78 percent have shown positive growth. The doctor said he has seen most patients gain 1 to 1.5 kilograms a week while taking the vitamin-enriched and calorie-heavy supplement.
“People from this area are very poor,” Dr. Sultan said. “They don’t have enough money for their baby’s special food. As long as we have this kind of program, it is going to succeed. Now people know this good thing about the ‘strong food,’ that is why more patients come in and get this food.”
The success of “strong food” in the Shajoy area and a positive backing by Dr. Sultan provided Capt. (Dr.) James Arnold the momentum he needed to expand the program.
“Giving this program to Dr. Sultan has actually been the biggest help to us because he is well invested in it,” said Captain Arnold, deployed from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. “He is a nutritionist. He deals with the malnourishment problem for the entire Zabul province.”
Captain Arnold said Dr. Sultan’s positive reputation in the medical field has helped convince his fellow doctors to join the program.
“(As) the voice of this project, (he) can better influence anything I can do,” he said.
The two doctors met local medical experts with pediatric specialties to go over the results.
“We are trying to make all of our projects Afghan run because we are not going to stay around the long haul,” said Captain Arnold, a native of Grass Valley, Calif. “We (want) to give them something they can do on their own and sustain on their own.”
After a demonstration on how to make “strong food,” the medical professionals made a batch themselves with ingredients available locally. The concoction was blended using donated mixing sets.
“Boy Scouts are taught to seek opportunities to help others,” the West Salem High School senior said. “I wanted to provide service that was meaningful as I sought to complete my requirements for the obtaining of the rank of Eagle. This project seemed challenging but perfect.”
Dr. Sultan is grateful for the effort the PRT put into launching the “strong food” program.
“I am very thankful to this team,” he said. “This is a very active team, and they have really wanted to work and (it) has been seen.”
1. Capt. (Dr.) James Arnold shows medical professionals from the Zaubl province how to make “strong food” Oct. 15 in Qalat, Afghanistan. “Strong food” is a vitamin enriched high calorie food supplement used to combat malnutrition. The Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team medical staff is working with local heath officials to combat the main causes of the extremely high-infant mortality in the area such as unsanitary water supplies and malnutrition. Captain Arnold is deployed from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Keith Brown)
2. Zabul Governor Delbar Jan Arman shows his appreciation for the work being done to fight malnutrition by the Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team Oct. 16 in Qalat, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Keith Brown)