"health, which is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, is a fundamental human right"
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Mobilizing Preventative Health Measures: A Mobile Clinic for Women and Children in Kendu Bay
It was a breath of fresh air, both literally and figuratively, to work with the mobile clinic run by the nursing school at Kendu Bay Adventist Hospital. This well-focused, well-organized, and well-run effort reaches women and children in rural areas who could not otherwise reach the local hospital for health checks. The back of a truck is opened to an attentive audience of young mothers and pregnant women sitting in the open air in fields and under trees outside of local primary schools.
The true success of this effort lies in it's focus on education and prevention. The clinic is started each day with a health talk on issues concerning pregnant women, including: HIV mother to child transmission, nutrition for pregnant women and young children, anemia, and malaria. For children, growth charts are created to monitor development and immunizations are administered to protect against polio, measles, TB, HIB, pertussis, tetanus infections. Pregnant mothers receive antenatal checks, as well as iron and folate supplements.
Additionally, all mothers are offered free testing and counseling for HIV. If they test positive, they are counseled on ways to take care of their own health as well as prevent the spread to other partners, including their unborn child. These measures include the administration of a single dose of anti-retroviral (ARV) during and after labor, shown to greatly decrease risk of Mother to Child (MTC) transmission. This simple, single effort that can even be utilized for home birth can change the entire course of a child's life. Family planning using Depo-Provera shots is offered at low cost, an important measure in combating poverty in low-income rural areas. It is efforts such as these that are making progress in the battle against HIV in certain areas. The preventative and educative nature of this mobile clinic ensure that it will have a lasting effect of the health of the participants in the years and generations to come.