Good health is basic to all life. From conception to the end of life, respect for life is seen in care for our human condition. Thus HVCF offers a variety of services for various aspects of health care. Under the topic health, we look at clinical health care, community health care, laboratory services, water development, orphans and vulnerable children, children with special needs and specifically the project for children with rickets.
Clinical Health Care is carried out in the project site. This term refers to those services which are offered in the Health Clinic. They include the following services:
Parents or Guardians are expected to bring their children five different times after birth to prevent the children from diseases such as tetanus, polio, pneumonia, tuberculosis, measles, etc. The visit also provides opportunity to monitor the child’s growth and general health to determine if there is any sign of malnourishment or other problem. During the visit, the parents (usually mothers) receive health advice during the Health Education input.
Because there are health staff on duty, people who are ill can visit the clinic during the day, or even at night if there is an emergency. Children are often brought with illnesses such as diarrhea, malaria, stomach pain, etc. The health staff follow what is known as the IMCI, i.e., Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses. This allows them to take a comprehensive approach to the health of the child. When the condition is too serious and they need admission, they are referred to one of the hospitals in Kaduna.
Pregnant women have their own special clinic every Friday. During their clinic they discuss more about pregnancy, learn of danger signs and go through blood pressure checks and other examinations which can alert them to any possible dangers in their pregnancy. They also have the opportunity, if they are HIV+, to take part in the PMTCT programme. The focus of the ANC programme is to do everything possible to ensure that mother’s life is ensured and she gives birth to a healthy infant.
Trained midwives are available to assist women to deliver their newborns. If they have taken part in antenatal classes, they are aware of what to expect during any particular delivery because no two deliveries are the same. They are often accompanied by a female relative, but once in a while a husband takes a more active part, at least during the period of labour.
Tuberculosis is one of the diseases which at times is detected in clients. After a laboratory test confirms such diagnosis, the patient is put on TB drugs. HVCF has been named as a DOT Centre, i.e., Direct Observation Treatment. It is always a joy for the nurses to see one of their patients who has been quite ill, recover and look full of health.
Maternal mortality remains a major problem, especially in rural areas, and in many cases, the death of the mother causes grave problems for their infants. Family members ordinarily take responsibility for caring for orphans, but at times due to their own limitations, whether physical (at times in the case of a grandmother or older woman) or financial (in the case of a father being left to fend for other children’s needs), the infants do not receive the care they need. There are also cases where children have or develop serious illnesses that cause great harm to the child. When such cases are brought to the notice of HVCF, they are attended to according to the need ascertained. Follow up is carried out until it is evident that the children are back on the road to good health.
Under this heading are all those programmes which are carried out with people in rural areas. These programmes are a primary focus of HVCF because while ordinarily people along major roads have a least a limited access to clinical or hospital care, people in the inner rural areas are isolated and often cut off from basic services due to poor road network, distance from functioning health facilities, dearth of medical knowledge and medical personnel, poor access to transport, i.e., vehicles, and poverty. It is in this light that HVCF carries out much of its health work in rural areas.
HVCF cannot always be in communities so in order to address simple health problems, where a community requests such service, HVCF trains members of the community to be able to identify simple health problems, to treat ordinary illnesses and to administer basic drugs through a drug revolving fund. This work is supervised by a community health committee who are trained to know the role of the CHEV. With this service some of the endemic health problems in communities have been reduced.
At times this is a little-recognized condition until it manifests itself in causing susceptibility to other illnesses. To prevent this HVCF carries out a deworming exercise in communities. This service is offered to young and old alike, and welcomed by all.
As noted earlier, qualified health care is often not available in rural areas. There are simple methods that can be followed when a newborn child does not begin to breathe immediately. Anyone, not just health personnel, can assist in such cases. This programme is brought to communities to teach especially the women how to help one another in such situations. For more on this programme, see here.
In addition to helping babies breathe, as described above, there are also specific conditions that can threaten the life of an infant in the first two months. To prevent or lessen infant mortality, community members have been trained to detect such illnesses and to know how to refer them to a health worker. Go here to read more about this.
The laboratory offers services that are similar to those carried out in any standard laboratory, i.e., routine blood work, testing for HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis, etc. In addition, the laboratory has the equipment to do chemical analysis.
One of the major initiatives of the laboratory during the past year has been the ‘Know Your Genotype’ project in rural communities. This initiative was carried out to slow the spread of sickle cell disease which affects a sizable number of children as well as adults in communities. Presently more than 2000 rural community members have their personalized cards indicating both blood type and genotype. click for more on the genotype project
Water, an essential for life, is oftentimes a scarce commodity in rural communities. When available, it is often not potable. Some communities have ‘local wells’ that are not ringed, and thus are susceptible to collapse. In addition, without permanent covers, the water is not kept free of different types of pollution. Other communities have to resort to local streams or ‘water holes’ where they fetch water that is of very poor quality, many times shared with herds of animals. During the dry season when the streams are dry, the communities dig into the sand to find water.
The fetching of water is normally done by the women and children, especially girls. When the source is far from the community, hours are spent fetching enough water for a family, and as a consequence, many girls do not go to school. Even when they do, by the time they arrive, they are too tired from fetching the water to be able to concentrate well.
The water development programme works with communities to enable them to have hand-dug wells with handpumps on them. Covers on the wells along with handpumps enable the communities to have clean and available water. learn more about the water project
Children are the major focus of HVCF, and extra care is taken to address the situation of children with special needs. This includes a specific focus on children with rickets, a disease caused by a lack of calcium needed to strengthen the bone structure. This disease is endemic in the organizational target area and beyond. Alongside the project for children with rickets, other children with special needs are also given specialized care. This includes children with post-polio paralysis, spinal bifida, mental disability, cerebral palsy, club feed and disability due to severe burns.
Rickets is a disease of bone deformation caused by a lack of calcium in a bone, causing the bone to bend and twist. It is not unusual to find in areas south of the city of Kaduna, children who are walking with difficulty due to crippling in the legs. In many cases one can see other signs such as stunted growth, twisted backs, bowed arms, and even problems with teeth.
HVCF has a project which addresses the problem of rickets. The project began in the area immediately south and east of Kaduna, but has not spread further south in the State due to the presence of large number of cases there. The coordinating centre for that effort is in Kwoi in Jaba Chiefdom while the effort in areas close to Kaduna is the HVCF office site. HVCF has registered more than 2000 children and continues to have new cases. For more, see here.