When CFK met Isaac in May of this year he weighed 6 kgs (~13 lbs), at 13 months old. The normal weight of a child his age in Kenya is usually around 8 kgs (~18 lbs). That may not seem like a lot, but it is for a young child.
During a community screening for malnutrition, CFK Community Health Workers (CHWs) met Isaac and his parents. Isaac’s mother is a housewife who, at the time, had just moved to Kibera from the rural areas with her son to be with her husband, Isaac’s father, who works as a casual laborer. Only making 150 shillings (~$1.75) a day, the minimal income wasn’t enough to provide for the family, and Isaac’s health showed it.
Not only was Isaac severely malnourished, but he suffered from anemia, pneumonia and developmental delays. Doctors at CFK’s Tabitha Medical Clinic recommended that Isaac be admitted to Mbagathi Hospital for eight weeks. Not able to cover their usual day-to-day expenses, Isaac’s family was worried about the hospital expenses. Thanks to the support from CFK’s Health Department emergency fund, the bill of 4,800 shillings (~$56) was covered, and Isaac was released from the hospital weighing 6.7 kgs (~15 lbs).
After being released from the hospital, Isaac was enrolled in CFK’s Lishe Bora nutrition center where he was fed every two hours, with feeding supplements and balanced meals and snacks. As part of the holistic program, Isaac’s mother took classes on preparing balanced meals for her child and on the importance of good hygiene and sanitation for families living in Kibera. After just two months in the centre, Isaac was able to stand and walk on his own and was beginning to speak, all developmental milestones he previously hadn’t reached. He was finally discharged from the nutrition center weighing 18 lbs.
Isaac’s journey still continues. He and his family receive weekly home visits from the nutrition center and CHW teams at CFK to make sure Isaac continues to progress. In November, I joined CFK Nutritionist, Esther and CHW Francis as they visited Isaac in his home. A shy but clearly loved and happy little boy, Isaac recognized Esther when she arrived at his home. Isaac’s mother held and hugged her little boy, talking to Esther about how she was able to change meal preparations to make them more nutritionally rich and healthy for her family, something she learned from Lishe Bora. She told Esther that if it weren’t for CFK, she may have lost her son. Esther replied, “This is what we do. We’re just doing our part for the health of the kids.”
On the homepage of the Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer (PINCC) website you find a statistic in bold type: “Cervical cancer kills 300,000 women worldwide each year, even though it is completely preventable.” This was repeated by volunteers from PINCC who came to the Tabitha Clinic recently for a week of training, education and treatment for women, community health workers, nurses and others. I’ve had many conversations about cervical cancer with Adah, a CFK nurse whose passion is supporting Kiberan women to prioritize prevention of diseases through screenings and thoughtful family planning. As screening for cervical cancer is relatively new in Kibera, it is clear from talking with Ada how difficult the work is when she meets women who have developed the disease, especially knowing what we all now know from PINCC’s bold statistic, that this disease is completely preventable.
CFK and PINCC have partnered together to increase awareness of methods for preventing cervical cancer among families in Kibera. For a week, ten PINCC volunteers (made up of gynecologists, nurses and administrative support) teamed with the Tabitha Clinic to not only educate clinic staff and the community but to offer free screenings and treatment for women with precancerous cells so that they never develop the cancer. The team additionally trained CFK clinic staff on the procedures for screening women and for treating the early signs of the disease so that Tabitha Clinic can continue to offer these services.
During the week of PINCC’s visit, the ground floor of Tabitha Clinic was transformed into a reproductive health and treatment area. Women came from all over Kibera for the services, including many women from the Daughters United program (Binti Pamoja) and other CFK program participants and family members. In total 173 women were screened over four days, and eight women were diagnosed with high-grade pre-cancerous lesions that were immediately managed in order to prevent the development of cancer and save their own lives.
CFK will continue to educate, screen and treat the women of Kibera so that, in the future, no women will have to develop the disease that is completely preventable.
To read about CFK's partnership with PINCC, check out their blog on their visit: http://pinccorg.blogspot.com/2013/08/day-three-in-kibera-is-wrap.html
Learn more about cervical cancer on the PINCC website: http://www.pincc.org/cervical-cancer/what-is-cervical-cancer
In 2012, the Tabitha Medical Clinic identified hundreds of cases of malnourishment in Kiberan children, which hinders healthy growth of educational, communicative, and social skills. According to the World Bank, good nutrition is also “the first line of defense against numerous childhood diseases, which can leave their mark on a child for life.” With limited resources, the body will always prioritize survival and neglect growth (Sagan and Druyan, World Bank). Given that nutrition is an essential element in the development and overall health in children under the age of five, the Carolina for Kibera team decided to create a nutrition initiative in the Kibera community.
The CFK nutrition centre opened in May 2013 enrolling 35 children into the daily feeding and early childhood development program. It is hoped that in three months the children will be at the approximate weight they should be for their age and that their parents will be well-equipped with knowledge and tools for keeping their children healthy. The center is also working with Community Health Workers (CHWs) to support an additional 140 children in the community, visiting families and supporting the development of the children by sharing information with parents and guardians on nutrition and child development. The nutrition center, called “Lishe Bora Mtaani,” which can be loosely translated as “good nutrition for the community," hopes to expand its work to reach families in neighboring villages in Kibera. The centre is an integral part of the Community Health Program, which works closely with Community Health Workers (CHWs) and the Tabitha Clinic for medical assessment, treatment and follow up of the children, facilitating referrals and the phasing out of services.
Founded from a mere $26, The Tabitha Medical Clinic has now scaled up the clinic’s services to the community through cervical cancer screening using VIA.
Despite the wide variation in access to care and screening services for cervical cancer evident in the health system in Kenya, the Carolina for Kibera through its health service opened doors at Tabitha clinic for cervical cancer screening.
Tabitha clinic is now undertaking cervical cancer screening to all women of reproductive age in the community for prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment. We also provide education on cervical cancer to ensure that more women know about the benefits of early detection and can participate in cancer control and prevention.
Launched in December 2012, also targeting highest-risk HIV-infected women, the program has cumulatively provided the services to up to 70 women.
Each woman is counted and counts. Every woman merits the opportunity to avoid cervical cancer, no matter where she lives.
Carolina for Kibera has responded to a significant need in Kibera, a resource-limited setting where healthcare funding and infrastructure are inadequate for primary care and prevention programs like cervical cancer screenings, and women are, as a result, significantly more vulnerable. The program encourages women to be screened and to have pap tests conducted based on VIA results through referral.
The Carolina for Kibera Cervical Cancer Screening Program supports women and healthcare providers to help ensure that as many women as possible benefit from cervical cancer screening. It also works to dispel the previously-held idea that such services are only available in big hospitals and come at a cost.
A large number of women in the community never get to be screened for cervical cancer—whether it is because of day-long work/business or local myths and fears about cervical screening. However, no woman in Kibera ought to die of cervical cancer, a disease said to develop slowly after initial infection and, unlike most other cancers, to be preventable when precursor lesions are detected and treated. This is what CFK, through its Health Service Department, stands for through this noble program, and we are proud to be developing workable strategies to see that all women have access these services.
Founded with a mere $26, the Tabitha Medical Clinic has now scaled its nutrition program. Close to 30% of Kiberan children aged 0-5 years remain vulnerable and are at risk for malnutrition. The nutrition program was started with the interest of sustaining and contributing to Kenya’s Millennium Development Goals by helping to reduce the high mortality rate. Through Carolina for Kibera (CFK), the clinic will now engage the community to support close to 100 children under the age of five, who are either moderately or severely malnourished.There are few clinics that offer nutrition services in Kibera, despite the growing number of deaths and cases of malnutrition. CFK, through the Tabitha Medical Clinic, has begun offering these services as a response to this significant need in the community.CFK plans to create a nutrition model that could be replicated in all 12 villages of the slum to alleviate this endemic problem. We now welcome you to support us in this nutrition project.
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