Tag Archive: Child Health

Educating parents helps fight malaria

By Thet Kaung Myat Oo, Communication Associate, World Vision Myanmar

Aung, 8, is in grade 3, and lives with his parents and siblings in a village situated along the bank of a river in Myeik Township, Tanintharyi Division, Myanmar.

Most of the families in Aung’s village rely on odd jobs and struggle for their daily living, and Aung’s parents are no different, working to feed their five children in paddy fields and rubber plantations, or sometimes doing traditional river fishing.

“I would rather go find work to earn money for my family or stay at home, rather than attend those kind of discussions,” replied Daw Yu Htay, Aung’s mother, when asked by volunteers and her neighbours to attend health awareness sessions.

Daw Yu Htay works odd jobs in her village, earning about 3000 kyats (around $3 US) each day.

“Although I was invited to attend malaria behaviour change discussions often, I never attended because I thought they were not important,” she said. “Sometimes we slept with an insecticide net, but sometimes we did not. I did not believe the transmission was from mosquito bites.”

One day, Aung got a fever.

“I gave him some medicines which I bought from the local shop that I use to treat my children when they are sick,” Daw Yu Htay said.

“My neighbours asked me to take my son for a malaria blood test, but I just ignored them,” Daw Yu Htay recalls.

Three days later, her son’s fever became even worse. “I could not swallow food and felt pain in my head and stomach,” recalls Aung.

Daw Yu Htay finally accepted the help of a World Vision volunteer. Aung’s blood test came back positive; he was seriously ill with Plasmodium Vivax (PV) malaria. PV is one of the five species of malaria parasites that commonly infect humans.

Despite the health volunteer’s urging, Daw Yu Htay didn’t want to take Aung to the rural health centre, because she had no money. However, the volunteers encouraged her to take him, and accompanied them.

From there, Aung was promptly sent to the hospital, where he received the necessary treatment. He recovered quickly, and is back at school enjoying his lessons.

World Vision paid for Aung’s medical fees and transportation charges.

“My son survived because World Vision helped us. I would regret it my whole life if my son had died from malaria. I neglected my children due to lack of knowledge, but now I have changed,” says Daw Yu Htay.

“We sleep with long lasting insecticide net every night. I keep my children from being bitten by mosquitoes,” she declared.

Now, Daw Yu Htay not only actively participates in awareness raising sessions but also encourages her neighbours to sleep with insecticide treated bed nets.

This story was adapted from an article at wvi.org

When health services are in the hands of communities

By Achel Bayisenge, Communications, World Vision Burundi

43-year-old Josephine is happy to be equipped with tools and drugs that help her fight against malaria

In the courtyard of a modest house in the rural areas of Burundi, Josephine, a Community Health Worker (CHW) is sitting next to a table with a metal box on it. The box contains a complete toolkit donated by World Vision to help fight against malaria. Josephine sometimes takes her box outside to make sure everything is in its place to avoid unpleasant surprises. Her box may run short of drugs and she would be unable to attend to the patients of her community. The living room of her modest house is a little dark and does not allow her to see everything clearly, especially when it comes to writing; she explains. She has to give a report to her nearby health facility so that needed drugs can be made available on time.

Josephine is a 43-year-old lady who lives on Ntunda hill in Ntunda ADP, northeast of Burundi. She is committed to fighting against malaria in her community.

‘’No child has died so far because of malaria on my hill, since we started treating children from home,’’ Josephine explains joyfully.

According to the WHO, more than 6 million people, including 2 million children, in Burundi suffered malaria from January to August 2016 alone.

More than 2500 of the affected people have already died.

Since World Vision became aware of the outbreak, the organisation scaled up its integrated community case management approach, focusing mainly on malaria management. This approach consists of treating the 3 main killers of under-five children in Burundi, namely malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea.

Josephine is proud of being able to diagnosis and treat malaria that affects children in her community.

“We had a similar outbreak of the disease 15 years ago and many people perished, especially children,” she still remembers.

Asked if she had taken courses in medication before the World Vision project, her answer is no; World Vision trained and equipped 108 community health workers, including herself, throughout the whole commune of Gitaramuka to help them stop the Burundi malaria trend.

Josephine is always ready to help out whenever a malaria case arises on her hill, she explains. The donated metal box holds a complete toolkit including drugs, gloves, needles, solar torch, para checks, report forms, and many items enabling her to serve better, she continues.

Josephine and her bicycle.

On top of the toolkit, World Vision supported her with a bicycle. A bicycle helps her move around in the community to follow up on the health status of children she has treated. If their status does not improve, she refers them to a health facility, she says. A bicycle is also used to transport children if she finds that there is a need for the sick child to reach health facilities quickly. She appreciates World Vision’s support with all this. What caused many deaths in the past was the long time mothers had to travel to reach nearby health facilities. For many of them, this involved walking for hours and hours while the child’s health status worsened.

During the current malaria outbreak, community health workers are receiving more children than ever before. Sometimes their metal boxes run short of drugs because of the many children in need.

Josephine is asking for more support from the Government and Donors to help ensure that other communities do not experience what happened in the past when community health workers had not started working.

This story was featured on wvi.org

My entire dream came true

By Narges Ghafary
World Vision Afghanistan

Afghanistan is one of the most challenging places in the world to be a woman; more women die in pregnancy and childbirth than almost anywhere else in the world. One in 50 women will die during pregnancy or childbirth—one every two hours. Women have more than five children on average, yet one out of 10 children die before their fifth birthday.

The only good news is that these statistics have substantially improved in the last few years with World Vision’s commitment through its health programmes.

After three decades of warfare, Afghan women are taking reconstruction, coupled with creating social change, into their own hands.

Shafiqa is a 45 year old widow who lost her husband in the war. She is now the single mother of five sons.

“Now I am working in health mobile team in remote areas where there is no clinic and health staff. I go to remote areas with four of my male colleagues; I am the only woman in their team. We stay one week in each remote area and nights we have to stay in Arbab’s home [village elder], at Thursday we will [go] back to the city to spend the weekend with our families. Some of my female colleagues advise me to leave my job because it is so dangerous but I never do that because I think all success in my life is due to pray[ers] of these people [people in remote area]. It is difficult to be far from family for one week but when people are happy to see us, I forget all difficulties,” she says.

She is a successful example of the Afghan woman who has endured difficult days and has fruitful children who are as proud of her as she is of them.

“We lived in Kabul, I had 21 years old and my husband was clerk, we had a good and nice life until my husband was killed in the war and left me alone with five children.” She takes a deep breath and continues, “I lived with my husband’s family, when I lost my husband they [tried to force] me to marry with my brother-in-law.”

In some parts of Afghanistan, marriage with surviving brothers is common. As a young widow with five children she had two choices: to marry her brother-in-law or to lose everything and live an uncertain future with her children.

“I loved my husband, my conscience did not allow something like this so when I didn’t accept marriage with their son they threw me out of the house with five children, my last child [was] only one year old,” Shafiqa said.

Many Afghan widows struggle for survival. After their husbands’ deaths, the women are faced with rape, poverty and social condemnation. Especially if they live without family support, they are vulnerable and some of them even consider ending their lives as an alternative to the risks they are certain to face.

“[His family] even [kept] my husband’s [inheritance]. I didn’t have any family; they were missing in the war, so I decided to leave Kabul before my husband family got back my children too. I lived in immigration camp with my children in Herat. I passed awful days; my older son had only eight years. We didn’t have equipment for living; even we hadn’t glass to drink tea or hadn’t enough dress to put on in the winter so I had to work all day. My husband liked our children to be educated so their education was another responsibility for me. I had to work three shifts to fight with poverty, I worked in the office as a typesetter in the morning, as a registration person in one private clinic at evening and I had to sew at night. Everything was going good until Afghanistan was occupied by Taliban.”

During the rule of the Taliban women were treated worse than at any other time. They were forbidden to work, leave the house without a male escort, or seek medical help from a male doctor, and they were forced to cover themselves from head to toe, even covering their eyes.

Women who were doctors and teachers were forced to leave their work and sit at home, and girls were forbidden to go to school as a result of the prevalent ultraconservative policies of that period.

“That time I couldn’t work outside so I had to rotate the wheel of life with sewing and clothes washing in people homes. After leaving of Taliban I continued my work at the clinic in registration; as my children grew up gradually their needs became more and more and in the other hand the rent of house was increased and my salary wasn’t enough so I had to find a way.

By the clinic head I was informed [of] World Vision’s midwifery programme.”

World Vision has been conducting midwifery education programmes in Herat since 2011 to reduce maternal and newborn mortality.

“[In] childhood I liked to be a nurse or doctor so it was a great opportunity for me, after graduation I could help woman and children as well as I could have an income for my family so my children’s future will be guaranteed. First it was so hard, I studied, worked and took care of my children, but I [dreamed of a] lighter future. My children had gone to school in the morning and worked in the tailor shop and workshop at the evening to help me [in] supporting of family.

After graduation as there was lack of midwife, immediately I found work in clinic as a midwife. Day by day my children grew up and were about to finish high school. I was near to my husband’s dream. Now could support my family as well as save money for their future. I collected my money and made family for my two older sons [who] now are working in remote areas as translators.”

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Shafiqa is on the right

She laughs and says, “Now I have a grandson. My last child will graduate from high school next year. I always saw these days [as a] dream; actually I have this success from prayers of people that I treated when there wasn’t a trained health staff to help them. Pity that my husband isn’t here to see these days and be proud of his children and my education,” Shafiqa said.