Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Keeping Women and Girls Healthy

For 50 days, ChildFund International (our American sister organisation) is joining with numerous organisations to demonstrate support for government policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, and safe – no matter where they live. Improving the Health of Women and Girls is this week’s theme.

Visiting the doctor is usually a mild inconvenience in the United States. It may entail a drive across town and a sit in a waiting room filled with people coughing and sneezing. But in Senegal, which has only 822 doctors serving a population of more than 12 million, seeking medical attention is a major undertaking.

For some families, it’s too much. Sadio is the mother of two-year old twin girls in the village of Pakala, which is often flooded during the rainy season – making it extremely difficult to travel 6 kilometres to the nearest health post staffed by nurses. Both Awa and Adama suffer from Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI); Adama is particularly ill, with a debilitating cold that requires care from a doctor – a 50 kilometre journey from their home.

Sadio and her husband Moussa, a farmer, have experienced loss before; their first child, Matar, died in 2007 at just 13-months old from diarrhoea and a respiratory infection. But today their village has a health hut, which is staffed by a matron, community health workers and birth attendants. They can help patients with basic needs, but more complicated illnesses and ailments still call for a trip to the health post 5 kilometres or the 50 kilometre journey to the hospital.

Sadio reports that her diet improved during her pregnancy with the twins after receiving advice at the health hut, but her little girls still face challenges from their respiratory infection.

The health of women and girls is important to ChildFund; we are working with local partners to provide access to health care in isolated villages as well as underserved urban areas in developing nations.

In Senegal, ChildFund is leading the implementation of a $40 million grant from USAID to establish community health care services for children and families in great need.

Over five years, we plan to establish 2,151 health huts and 1,717 outreach sites throughout the country, along with a sustainable national community health policy working in partnership with USAID and other key community development organisations.

By the end of the project, we expect to have helped more than 9 million Senegalese people in 72 districts – we hope this will help young children, like Awa and Adama receive the proper healthcare they deserve.

 

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