A mother and her baby triplets were among the first people in the world to benefit from HPIC’s Mother-Child Health Kits.
In partnership with the Rotary Club of Dartmouth (Nova Scotia) and the SEMAFO Foundation, HPIC provided six prototype Mother-Child Health Kits to health posts in rural Niger in May.
“These communities are very poor,” said Chantal Guérin, Director General of the SEMAFO Foundation. “The Mother-Child Health Kits have certainly helped a lot already.”
According to field staff, the triplets’ father who is unemployed approached the foundation for help. The kits arrived just in time to provide the tools and medicines needed for following the three baby girls and their mother for six months.
Niger has the highest fertility rate in the world, very high maternal and infant mortality rates and 63 per cent of the population is living under the poverty line.
The frontline healthcare workers are keeping monthly reports about the kits’ use. The first project logs were provided to HPIC at a meeting in July following Guérin’s trip to Niger. Initial feedback showed much appreciation for the blood pressure monitors, which they did not have prior to the project.
Later this summer, in partnership with the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada (EMCC), HPIC will be providing 30 Mother-Child Health Kits for distribution to the EMCC’s network in Haiti. Other projects are also being developed in Kenya and Benin.
The Mother and Child Health Kit is an important initiative within HPIC’s Mother and Child Health Program. HPIC aims to support the ability of frontline health workers to provide responsive, quality care to young children and to women throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the early post-partum period.
HPIC has received a report from ANERA, an NGO working in Gaza in collaboration with the World Health Organization, about a major medical relief effort of the Health + Hope Alliance.
At the time the shipment of essential medicines arrived, the WHO reported that more than 150 items of essential drugs were still out of stock. HPIC, a founding member of the Health + Hope Alliance contributed 100 emergency Physician Travel Packs to this Alliance operation.
Mostafa El-Ghosein, ANERA’s In-Kind Manager in Gaza, described the donation as “timely, varied, high-quality and plentiful,” arriving soon after the Gaza crisis. The six air shipments of long-dated, chronically needed medicines and supplies arrived within three weeks. “This speedy delivery enabled us to respond quickly to the emergency,” he added.
Half of the donations were designated for Gaza’s biggest hospital, Shifa, which handles 75% of the area’s surgery patients. The rest of the medicine was distributed to local clinics and other hospitals. “The recipients expressed their sincere appreciation for the exceptionally long expiration dating of the medicines that have filled enormous gaps of essential drugs for both children and adults suffering from chronic diseases.”
Ahmad El-Najjar, In-Kind Field Monitor, said the large quantity of medicines has enabled hospitals and clinics to serve a wider community. “We were able to quickly provide 19 local partners with medicines and supplies. Most of ANERA’s recipient clinics and hospitals in Gaza cannot afford to purchase medicines and disposable medical supplies, so they rely heavily on the regular donations that ANERA provides. Otherwise they would have to send patients to private pharmacies to purchase expensive medicines that are not always available.”
This emergency shipment meant that needy patients could access essential medicines at their local clinic or hospital, free of charge.
Doctors across Zimbabwe now have a practical and quick reference guide for treating young children. This is an essential tool for the country’s 800 doctors who care for a population of over 13 million.
HPIC, with funding provided by the Rotary Club of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, revised and reprinted Peter Iliff’s Neonatal Handbook, originally printed in 1995 by the late doctor. The 2013 edition in memory of Dr. Peter Iliff was distributed to 500 doctors across the country, which is struggling with one of the highest under-five mortality rates in the world.
“The Neonatal Handbook is a resource to help doctors do their job better,” said Glen Shepherd, President of HPIC. “Available free of charge, it is first being distributed in pediatric wards and then throughout Zimbabwe. Eventually, it will be available as a free downloadable pdf on our website so that other doctors in Africa and around the world will be able to access it.”
HPIC’s mission is to increase access to medicine and improve health in the developing world. An emphasis on the needs of mothers and children runs across many HPIC projects. “The well-being of children is a foundational value of a civilized society and ensuring children’s health is one of the best investments that society can make,” Shepherd added. “The publication of this Handbook is an expression of the priority HPIC has attached to the health of mothers and children and is a reflection of its importance in our mission, programming and our fundraising.”
Along with HPIC’s Health +Hope Alliance partner IHP-UK, HPIC is planning a major mobilization of medical aid for Syrian refugees.
“This spring we worked with the International Society for Peace and Human Rights to provide 30,000 treatments for Syrians in Iraq,” said Wes Robinson, HPIC’s Director of Emergency Relief. “I visited partners in the region this month and they told us the need for medicine is critical.”
HPIC had meetings with UN agencies and other program partners in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt in June. Now the planning is well underway and HPIC expects to be providing more medical relief this year, possibly in the context of a two-year program with global partners.
“We have the partners lined up and we are getting ready,” Robinson said.
Dartmouth Rotary Club Takes Action to Save Mothers and Children in Niger
When pharmacist and HPIC board member Robert Earle first heard about HPIC’s plans for a Mother-Child Health kit, he thought immediately of Niger. “The need is so great in the area,” he said when speaking to HPIC about bringing Mother-Child Health Kits to the community he knows well. “In a country as poor as Niger the rural areas are neglected, and at the moment there is almost no maternal care.” There is no question Niger is in desperate need of support for maternal care. The country not only has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world, it has the highest fertility rate in the world.
The result is a sobering statistic:
The average number of children a woman in Niger gives birth to is 7.52 and her lifetime chance of dying of complications from pregnancy or childbirth is one in seven.
HPIC developed a Mother-Child Health Kit designed to equip rural healthcare workers with basic medicines and supplies. The kit will cover the essentials for providing care for pregnant women and their developing babies, delivering a baby safely and immediate follow-up care of mothers and newborn babies. The kit will mean higher quality of care and ultimately better survival rates for newborns and mothers. Robert has already been instrumental in mobilizing the Dartmouth Rotary Club to support the delivery of HPIC Physician Travel Packs to Niger in the past and felt strongly that the Mother-Child Health Kit would be extremely beneficial to the women in the region. “Supplying just the basics means so much.”
The Dartmouth Rotary Club raised the funds to ensure the delivery of the first six kits going into Niger but more is needed to ensure that mothers in the region are not facing such dire risks when giving birth. The kits contain consumable medicines, non-consumable equipment and maternal training will be provided for frontline healthcare workers in the region. HPIC has teamed up with other partners that are also committed to saving mothers in the developing world. Our partners, such as the Salvation Army, GAiN (Global Aid Network) Canada, SEMAFO and EMCC (Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada) are working to bring these lifesaving kits to other countries in need such as Haiti and Benin.
Help us ensure that healthcare workers in the developing world have the skills, supplies and medicines to save the lives of mothers and children.
Health Partners International of Canada’s Capacity Building and Access to Medicines project (CBAM) has been working in Kabul, Afghanistan’s underfunded public hospitals for the past three years and has successfully provided more than 122,000 crucial medical treatments to sick Afghans. This marks a particularly successful period for the project as the number of treatments provided has more than doubled in the last year.
In that same time period the project shipped approximately 44,000 lbs of medical supplies to our partner hospitals that are often short of basic medical supplies. It is not unusual for an Afghan doctor to have to purchase their own medical supplies or medication at the local bazaar in order to do their job properly.
We have recently added two new clinics to our list of hospital partners in Kabul. Each clinic contributes a unique element to the network of healthcare partners that HPIC has been developing in Kabul.
The Central Polyclinic, established in 1985 by the Ministry of Public Health, has received limited support from the Afghan government. The clinic has an annual budget of $1,156 CDN for pharmaceutical purchases. It is a struggle for the clinic to adequately treat the 700-1000 patients who arrive daily seeking assistance within that budget. The partnership between our CBAM project and the clinic will not only provide more donated Canadian medicines but will also greatly improve the organization’s pharmaceutical management systems.
The second new partner to the CBAM project is The Emergency Health Services Clinic, which has shown strong commitment to serving the fast-growing population of the capital city, including the camps of Internally Displaced People (IDPs). The clinic serves approximately 50-60 people a day and has an annual budget of $745 CDN a year for pharmaceuticals. The CBAM project will bring donated medicines and improved pharmaceutical management frameworks to this clinic as well.
The CBAM project in Afghanistan has been working to provide better access to healthcare for Afghans, especially women and children, by shipping much needed medicines and supplies and by providing support to various branches of the Afghan Ministry of Public Health.
We have worked to develop capacity and provided important staff training within the Ministry’s Central Medical Storage, the Quality Control Laboratory, the Pharmaceutical Donations office and are leading an assessment of the national pharmaceutical industry in Afghanistan. We are also improving pharmaceutical management within our partner hospitals and providing needed training for pharmacists and dispensary staff.
By working in concert with the Ministry of Public Health and local healthcare institutions the CBAM project is an important effort contributing to the rebuilding of the healthcare system for all Afghans.
Seven-day old Zaynah was brought to the Indira Gandhi Hospital in Kabul for her vaccinations when the doctor who was administering them informed her mother that she was going to have to be admitted for a few days. Zaynah was suffering from jaundice and was showing signs of developing a bacterial infection as well.
It is not uncommon for babies to develop jaundice in the days following birth but it must be addressed quickly or it can lead to severe medical issues. Untreated jaundice in babies can lead to fever, lack of appetite, lethargy and even seizures. In its worst forms it can cause brain damage leading to cerebral palsy, impaired vision and hearing, and underdeveloped motor skills.
Zaynah was being aggressively treated with phototherapy and Amikacin (antibiotic) injections, donated by one of our pharmaceutical partners, for the infection. Injectable antibiotics are critical to the care of newborns but are quite difficult to find in Afghanistan. In speaking with a doctor in the maternity ward he emphasized the importance of donated drugs to the care of Afghan newborns.
“I use HPIC donated medicines whenever possible, I trust Canadian medications very much and they have always been effective in treating the babies,” the physician told one of our visiting staff members.
Efforts to increase access to healthcare for women and children in Afghanistan are producing positive results, but more needs to be done. In the past ten years the rate of child mortality has been cut in half but the country still has the second highest child mortality rate in the world (USAID).
World Health Day is celebrated on the 7th of April to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization in 1948. This year the organization has chosen to celebrate its 65th anniversary by raising awareness worldwide of the health impacts of high blood pressure (hypertension).
Currently one in four adults worldwide is suffering from high blood pressure and many have no symptoms of their illness at all. Sadly, the numbers are not expected to improve; it is estimated there will be a staggering 1.56 billion adults living with high blood pressure by 2025 (WHO).
High blood pressure is often perceived as a problem exclusive to wealthier nations but that is no longer the case; a recent study concluded that more than 80 percent of high blood pressure disease occurs in the developing world. For example, age-specific stroke rates are up to six-times higher in Tanzania than in the United Kingdom (Reuters).
But the threat is still serious in the developed world; while some statistics are showing a decrease in hypertension in general populations, the disease is being seen more often, and more severely, in younger people. One recent study estimated that one in five people in the UK between the ages of 16-34 are suffering from high blood pressure, with more than 18% of those being at immediate risk of a catastrophic health event.
The potential damage to a person’s health from living long-term with hypertension is significant. The possible health implications that can manifest from living with untreated high blood pressure are: heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness or severe and potentially fatal damage to the body’s main arterial system.
The good news is that hypertension is a disease that is easily controlled, and potentially cured, by not smoking, limiting salt, fat and caffeine intake; losing weight, reducing stress levels and ensuring your pressure is checked regularly.
Lorsque la pharmacienne de Chicoutimi, Isabelle Bujold, a pris part à une mission médicale à Thiaré, au Sénégal, elle et son équipe étaient particulièrement reconnaissantes d’avoir les médicaments appropriés pour chaque diagnostic posé. « Quand nous avons ouvert les Trousses médicales de voyage, les yeux de l’infirmière en chef brillaient, en prenant tous ces médicaments de qualité », a-t-elle écrit dans son rapport à Partenaires Canadiens pour la Santé Internationale. L’équipe a vu entre 30 et 40 patients par jour, en majorité des femmes et des enfants, puisque les hommes partent durant la saison sèche pour chercher de l’emploi ailleurs. Les maladies les plus fréquentes étaient les infections respiratoires, les maladies transmises sexuellement, les plaies infectées, la malnutrition, les douleurs chroniques et les problèmes digestifs.
« Plusieurs de ces personnes n’ont aucun revenu, de sorte qu’elles se passent généralement de soins, a écrit Isabelle. De plus, les médicaments qui sont le plus souvent disponibles sont inefficaces. Quand une équipe d’Infirmiers et Infirmières sans frontières est sur place avec des Trousses médicales de voyage, elles ont une chance d’être vues et traitées ».
L’une des personnes qui ont pu bénéficier des soins et traitements des trois Trousses médicales de voyage qu’Isabelle a apportées est une petite fille de 9 mois. Lorsque le bébé est arrivé, il semblait globalement souffrant, il était fiévreux, avait le nez congestionné, toussait et ses yeux étaient purulents. « Elle ne pouvait ouvrir les yeux et ne pouvait manger grand-chose. Après une évaluation clinique, nous avons diagnostiqué deux infections à l’oreille, une conjonctivite et une bronchite et nous lui avons administré une première dose d’un antibiotique appelé Azithromycine (Zithromax donné par Pfizer). Nous avons donné à sa mère le reste des médicaments pour qu’elle puisse poursuivre le traitement à la maison », a-t-elle écrit.
Trois jours plus tard, la mère et le bébé sont revenus pour une vérification. « Toute l’équipe était heureuse de constater que la guérison du bébé était en bonne voie. Et nous pouvions enfin voir ses beaux grands yeux marron ».
« Les patients que j’ai vus étaient tellement reconnaissants de ce qu’on leur apportait. Ils nous ont accueillis le premier soir avec une cérémonie appelée “la cérémonie de la valise”. Ils reconnaissent l’importance et l’impact positif que ses médicaments ont sur leur population. Ils ne cessaient de nous remercier et c’est pour cette raison que je dis qu’il est important de poursuivre les dons à HPIC».