Posted July 26th, 2013 by africabridge
The Nutrition and Health Services Program was born out of several well-being surveys conducted by Africa Bridge in 11 villages of the Masoko and Mpombo wards in SW Tanzania. Child and family well-being surveys are conducted in villages where Africa Bridge operates before, during, and after each of their projects. Well-being surveys assess the living conditions, sleeping arrangements, meals per day with or without meat, fish or poultry, and the health of vulnerable children. The information gleaned from well-being surveys is a strong indicator of village vulnerability and helps Africa Bridge assess the effectiveness of its programs.
During a well-being survey children under the age of 5 are weighed, measured for height, and checked for edema (water retention). If a child has swelling present it is full of water rather than flesh, and is a symptom of malnutrition. Malnourished children retain water which is identified by the test for edema. Africa Bridge works with the local healthcare systems to A) have these children examined and diagnosed by a health care specialist B) provide nutritional training and health care education to the community. As surveys were conducted the need for nutritional training and health care education was recognized.
The Nutrition and Health Services Program was formed and is part of the Most Vulnerable Children’s Committee (MVCC) program. Medard Mwebesa works with Africa Bridge and is the MVCC Coordinator that organizes medical follow up’s and the nutrition clinics. Nutritional clinics teach community members about the types of malnutrition, the symptoms, causes and effects, and share techniques to help combat the problem. Nutritional clinics also give lessons in child growth development, food preparation and functions of food in the body, child feeding, and children’s diseases. Vaccinations are also given at the clinics.
In Tanzanian villages many families don’t have enough money for transport or hospitals fees, so Africa Bridge gives an initial capital grant to the MVCC which aids in covering medical care costs for needful community members. Once a community member’s cooperative begins earning an income, a portion of this money is given to the MVCC which helps create a sustainable fund for health care.
Nutritional clinics and sustainable grant funding for medical care are welcomed and unexpected side affects generated from Africa Bridge programs.
Written by Rita Romine-Black