Zaffe health centre serves 7000
In the past year we have seen very few malnourished children. We are beginning now to see the impact of our nutrition programme. This is very encouraging for us all.
Here in our small clinic in Zaffé, we are now seeing almost 7,000 people each year. More than half of them are children.
In the first six months of this year, we cared for 173 women in our antenatal clinic. During the same time we had 117 deliveries. Two of the mothers gave birth to twins. We advise all mothers to breastfeed their babies for at least four, or if possible, six months. They are happy to hear that this improves the baby’s immunity and enhances its physical and emotional well-being, and prevents gastrointestinal diseases.
We were kept busy in all departments during the first few months of the past year. When the harvesting season began in March and April, there was a slight decline in attendance but a marked increase followed. Warmer weather brought more mosquitoes, resulting in a lot of malaria. Anaemia, resulting from malaria, has been a major health complication for many children.
Our laboratory has also been kept busy and is a great asset for us in making more accurate diagnoses. We saw some cases of typhoid during the past year.
Children and adults who need observation and treatment are admitted for a maximum of 72 hours. If their condition does not improve they are referred to a specialist hospital. However, our rate of referral is rather low as most recover well and are discharged home. Families are always happy to hear that they can go home, as the expense and difficulty of going to the larger hospital is a big worry for them.
The Extended Programme of Immunization continues in progress in the surrounding villages. Mothers are continually encouraged and helped to realise the importance of having their children vaccinated against the major killer diseases. The response has been very encouraging for us.
A great difficulty we have had in the past year has been the shortage of mosquito nets. Although nets are supposed to be available for the people at a very low affordable price, they are not being distributed fairly. For us this means added fuel expenses because we have to make many journeys before a few mosquito nets are allocated to us.
Another worry is that the rainy season started late this year. Crop production has been affected, resulting in rising food prices. This has made life difficult for many families as they struggle daily to meet their basic needs. If they cannot afford proper medical care they are likely to resort to local medicine or start incorrect medical treatment at home. This can lead to serious health complications, as we know only too well.
Health education still remains one of our primary roles as we believe we can do much to empower people to improve their health status and prevent disease.
In our daily consultations, we realise that many people are not aware of HIV/AIDS and a lot of sensitization is needed. In one of our educational visits to a nearby college, when we went to give an HIV/AIDS awareness input, we discovered that the lecturers themselves needed a lot of information, too. From our feedback with the students we realised that they have been misinformed regarding some HIV/AIDS-related issues and sexually transmitted diseases. Thus, we see teachers as an important target group for our HIV/AIDS awareness programme.