Augustine brought her malnourished three-month-old son, Passi, to the Pama Clinic. She had walked for several hours to reach the clinic, only to find that their supply of life-saving therapeutic food had run out long ago.
We are working in two areas of the Central African Republic, Bossembélé and Yaloke. The health services in these areas are severely understaffed, with only three trained doctors, 16 qualified nurses and three trained midwives for almost 105,661 people.
Of the 22 health facilities in the area, only 12 are fully functional due to support from charities and non-governmental organisations, who provide 75 per cent of health services in the country. The remaining 10 are often out of stock of essential medicines, or the special therapeutic food used to treat malnourished children, and do not have the necessary staff or equipment.
- Training staff
- Providing medicines
- Improving the infrastructure of health centres, including repairing damage, restoring delivery rooms and water points and providing proper spaces for consulting and treatment that allow patients privacy
- Treating malnutrition
We are also spreading health and hygiene messages throughout communities by working with community volunteers, as well as traditional birth assistants and traditional healers. Traditional birth assistants and healers are still widely used in communities rather than qualified health professionals, particularly when access to health centres and medicine is limited. Sadly, however, this can often mean that people don’t get the healthcare they need.
Working with traditional birth assistants and healers in this way is a new and innovative approach. Our aim is to train them to identify critical signs of malnutrition and childhood illness, as well as the reasons why all pregnant women should be referred to health facilities for antenatal care with a skilled health provider, thus reducing the number of malnutrition cases in the community.
These activities will be critical in helping to:
- Combat malnutrition in children under five;
- Improve access to antenatal care;
- Scale up the usage of skilled birth attendants for pregnant women;
- Increase access to prevention, care and treatment of childhood diseases for under-fives;
- And boost levels of breastfeeding.
Ultimately, we are hopeful that this programme will significantly reduce the number of deaths of children under five and pregnant women in the Central African Republic – with approximately 12,500 people benefitting directly from this work.
Elise Ponson, Concern’s Country Director in the Central African Republic, said: “Since 2012, conflict in CAR has left communities highly vulnerable and made life-saving food and medicine for children and mothers hard to come by. Thanks to this funding, we are able to ensure that more people - from community level to those working in health facilities - are empowered and able to strengthen the health and nutrition system in this region.”
Without the support of UK aid, and those of you who donated to our Free from Hunger appeal, projects like this – that truly save lives – would not exist. Together, we are creating positive sustainable change. We must work together to keep the momentum going.