A nurse’s perspective on African care

I have been involved with NLCC since the early days and have been thrilled to see the growth in numbers of children coming to our schools.  It has been exciting to see many of them going on to further training and employment, and enabling them to help and support their families.

As a nurse and midwife, I was appalled at the poverty of the country and lack of resources of many of the families of the children in our schools.  Malaria and malnutrition are rife.  Many children suffer from diarrhoea and vomiting, chest infections, Asthma, parasites and skin conditions and infections are easily spread.

Some of the children in our schools died because they were unable to pay for simple medicines. Our children needed access to medical care, but the need seemed so huge!

To meet the need a two-pronged approach was needed.  Health Education and Provision of Medicines and Equipment.

Health Education includes the importance of handwashing and other ways to control the spread of infection, including the control of rubbish, mosquitoes and flies!  The importance of a clean water supply needs to be stressed.

During a recent visit to a village I saw a mosquito net being used as a pen for chickens!  An inventive use maybe, but it will not help to prevent mosquitos from biting the children and spreading Malaria.

Health Education is vital.  Always, ‘Prevention is better than cure’.  By employing a nurse in our school, she can teach the importance of handwashing, good nutrition and self care.  She will also be able to identify children who are malnourished and treat minor problems and injuries.  Those who need to be seen by a doctor will be referred to a nearby clinic.

There is hope for the children in our schools to grow into healthy citizens, and be an example to others.

Written by Margaret Staples

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