Dec 6, 2019

Community in Action

Kabba visits Zainab and Alimany
Kabba visits Zainab and Alimany

Kabba has been a Community Health Worker in his remote village in Northern Sierra Leone for 2 years. He has been trained and supported by Health Poverty Action, so he can better help members of his community to deal with health issues.

Kabba explains: “Now I understand malaria and I can be an example to my community. I used to get malaria, but since the training I have been free of it.”

“Before I was a Community Health Worker I did not take medicines - instead I went to a traditional healer. But now I understand the benefit of medicines.”

Kabba is using his new skills to change things in his community.

“Children used to die of malaria. It is a quick killer. Now they are not dying! When a child has a fever I use my test kit, and I treat them. I am always thankful. I am called ‘doctor’ in my village!”

There are still some challenges:

“Some people use their malaria bed nets to protect their garden, or to catch fish. Now I make sure the nets are used in the right way. In the evenings I teach them how to use them properly.”

As well as working to prevent malaria, Kabba supports pregnant women and new mothers in his village: “After a mother has given birth, I meet her. I tell her don’t give the child any water before the age of 6 months.”

He explains to mothers that a child only needs breastmilk for the first 6 months of their life - if they replace this with water, their baby will become ill and malnourished.

Kabba's own family has benefitted. In the past he did not get his first child vaccinated - but now he is making sure his children get all of their vaccinations.

In the future Kabba expains he wishes his village to get solar power, so he can have a phone and be able to charge it up. At the moment he has to walk for over an hour to get to the health centre just to speak with the health professionals.

Kabba tells us: “I want to help our community. Now people are no longer dying. When there was no Community Health Worker, more pregnant women were dying, but now there are fewer deaths.”

We join Kabba’s as he visits a woman named Zainab and her child Alimany, who is under 2 years old. He is checking up on the child after a recent illness.

Zainab explains: “The child was with me at home, when he started warming and getting a fever. As the fever grew I decided to go to Kabba. Kabba did a malaria test and my son was positive. Kabba was then able to treat him. I thank God!”

“Without Kabba my son would have been in a bad condition. I thank Kabba when he is around. We thank Health Poverty Action for teaching Kabba to support us. If the Community Health Worker was not there bad things would happen. I might have lost my child on the way to the hospital in Kamikwie. It is a long walk.”

Zainab explains that Kabba is always there to give advice: “Kabba has given me advice even just to cover up in the rainy season, and to wear slippers and clothes to cover our skin against malaria. He also advises us to clean the compound well to avoid attracting mosquitos.”

Even when Zainab gave birth to her son, she got good advice from Kabba and the health centre. She knew to breastfeed for the first 6 months, and now also gives him milk and rice dishes.

Zainab tells us: “In the future I want my son to become President or a doctor.”

Your support means that we can continue to work with Community Health Workers like Kabba, so they can continue to change lives in their communities.

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Nov 18, 2019

Binty and Isatu's Story

Binty and Isatu at Kagbere Health Centre
Binty and Isatu at Kagbere Health Centre

Binty is 17 years old, and has one child named Isatu, who is 8 months old. Binty lives in a rural area of northern Sierra Leone, several miles outside of the small village of Kagbere - the location of her nearest health centre. Health Poverty Action works with staff at the health centre to ensure that they're able to identify and treat community members suffering from ill-health.

“I came to the health centre with Isatu because she is sick, and I normally get food for my child here.”

Isatu was a premature baby, so was already a small child, but Binty became worried because she wasn’t putting on weight.

“I started to notice my child was sick when she was only three months old. At that time I was just giving her rice. When I came with her to the hospital they told me the rice was making Isatu sick. The nurse told me I should not give her the rice because she was too young.”

The nutrition nurse, Asha, gave Binty peanut nutrition supplements to take home, and instructed her to give them to Isatu twice a day - once in the morning and once in the evening. Over the course of several months, and many clinic visits, Isatu slowly got better.

The biggest challenge Binty faces is poverty and finding the money to feed and clothe her child so that she doesn’t become ill again.

“If this service was not here I would worry for my child's life, because of the transport needed to get to [the nearest hospital] - I would not be able to afford it.”

“I wish they had told me earlier that I should not feed my child rice or any other food before six months. I would advise new mothers not to give their child any food that is hard to digest when they are too young.”

“In the future I want her to be a lawyer or a doctor.”

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Oct 28, 2019

A Nurse's Perspective

Asha outside Kagbere Health Centre
Asha outside Kagbere Health Centre

Asha has been a nurse at Kagbere health centre in northern Sierra Leone for five years. Health Poverty Action has been working together with healthcare workers and institutions in this community for over thirteen years.

Asha says, “The biggest problem we face is nutrition. Most children who come here are here with a feeding problem. Most times they have been given water and rice too young, or without a varied nutritional balance. Most of the parents who come here haven’t been taught what food to give their children.”

With support from Health Poverty Action, Asha can teach more parents about the importance of breastfeeding and the different nutritional foods they can give their children to help them grow.

Health Poverty Action's previous work focussing on maternal health in this region has proven to be effective, contributing to a decrease in the maternal mortality rate of approximately 41 percent over the course of three years.

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