Clinic personnel identify children at risk of being malnourished and refer them to the Milk & Oats program. After a thorough screening process to determine the child’s needs and eligibility, participants receive supplies of milk, oats, fruits, vegetables and eggs over the course of six months, along with vitamins.
Mothers of Milk & Oats children are invited to participate in an eight-month series of nutrition workshops, where they receive training on how to keep their families healthy long-term. A total of six groups – three at the clinic and three more in neighborhoods nearby – learn how to prepare healthy, nutritious, affordable meals using locally-available foods.
125 women – ranging in age from 17 to 70 – completed the nutrition program. Many stated that they believed, prior to the workshop, that healthy eating was too expensive. The course introduced them to – and taught them to cook with – inexpensive, nutritious staples such as soy beans.
Thanks to the cooperation of our local partners and the generosity of our donors, these programs – along with others such as de-worming, vaccinations, Baby Song, family planning, and responsible maternity programs – the Salvation Army World Service Office has improved hundreds of lives in Paraguay.
“The Salvation Army in Angola can be very proud of this project,” said Lisa Firth, SAWSO technical advisor for health. “It’s been a privilege for me to work with the project’s staff and dedicated volunteers. Because of their good work, polio is no longer a threat to Angola’s children.”
It’s important to celebrate these hard-won victories, and the lives saved and improved through the efforts of our staff, our partners, our donors and our Creator. It’s also vital to maintain morale and persevere in the battles that aren’t yet over. As long as illness plagues the world, The Salvation Army World Service Office will be there to help fight for a cure.
In This Edition:
September 2016 marked the end of a 3-year project in the South American nation of Paraguay to provide health and medical services to one of the world’s most vulnerable communities. Although the initial mission wrapped up late last year, support to the impoverished urban area continues via a continuation project.
Over the course of the mission, the Tekokatu Medical Clinic, operated by regional Salvation Army personnel with funding and technical support from The Salvation Army World Service Office, has directly benefited 2002 women, 229 men and 562 children. It offers services at prices ranging from 30 to 58 percent less than other health centers in the area, and offers services to some qualifying patients at no charge.
Of course, it’s faster, easier and cheaper to work with people while they are still healthy than with the unhealthy, and the clinic’s clients are better off that way too. In addition to primary health care services, the clinic provides nutritional assistance and education to its participants through a nutrition workshop and the Milk & Oats Program.
The goal of the programs is twofold: To educate participants on how to establish healthy, nutritious diets for their families and provide them with the resources they need to maintain their newly-improved eating habits.
Polio is all but unheard of in the West, thanks to the near-universal use of vaccines to stop the disease in its tracks before it has a chance to infect its victims. But the same is not true in the other parts of the world, where access to polio vaccine is limited by lack of resources, war or cultural taboos. The crippling illness can still strike children in poor communities, and its debilitating effects last a lifetime.
Thanks in part to the efforts of The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO), its regional partners, and its generous donors, polio has been successfully eradicated from the African nation of Angola. In 2010, 33 cases of wild poliovirus disease were reported in the country. The following year, that number was down to five. Four new cases appeared in the opening months of 2012 but, as of March of that year, no new cases have been detected.
From the beginning of the project – undertaken in partnership with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation – its leadership knew eradicating polio would be a marathon rather than a sprint. Monitoring and prevention efforts – conducted by a large group of young volunteers working in their communities alongside The Salvation Army Angola’s Polio Project – continued for five years. Children received vaccinations, their parents received education and communities were mobilized to report any suspected cases of polio.
Lisa Firth, SAWSO technical advisor for health, meets with Salvation Army personnel and community mobilizers to announce an HIV counseling and testing outreach event in a slum neighborhood of Lagos, Nigeria.
A Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) project in the West African nation of Nigeria is designed to decrease the number of children born with HIV. This is a multifaceted problem requiring a multi-pronged approach, building on the successes already achieved by The Salvation Army Nigeria’s AIDS Project team, which has been working with HIV-positive people since 2006.
Through a combination of awareness-raising, education, antiretroviral drugs, and properly trained birth attendants, the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be reduced from over 30 percent to almost zero. Expectant mothers may not even know they’re infected, so community-based education and testing campaigns are vital.
But that’s only one part of the overall puzzle; outreach to the most vulnerable members of the community is another facet. Among Nigeria’s female sex workers, 25 percent – eight times more than the general population – are infected with HIV. Sex workers, their partners and clients account for half of the nation’s infected population.
The country’s users of injected drugs – nine percent of whom are believed to be HIV-positive – also remain largely unreached by prevention programs. In 2010, only about 20 percent of people who inject drugs knew their HIV status, so prevalence among this demographic is likely higher than available data suggests.
Without antiretroviral treatment, roughly one-third of pregnant, HIV-positive women pass the virus on to their unborn or newborn children. And, according to a study conducted in 2013, only about 27 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women in Nigeria received the treatment necessary to ensure their children would be born healthy and disease free.
Children can acquire HIV from their HIV-positive mothers in the womb, during childbirth or while breastfeeding and, although HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was, it remains a serious illness requiring lifelong treatment. No child should be born under that looming shadow and, if the proper medical resources are made available, no child would have that burden.
Polio volunteer in Angola
To change these troubling statistics, The Salvation Army Nigeria – in conjunction with its national partners and with support from SAWSO and generous donors – plans to test, counsel and treat thousands of pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, sex workers and injection drug users over the course of the next few years. By 2020, SAWSO hopes to reduce HIV infections among Nigeria’s most vulnerable and ensure newborn children can have a healthy, hopeful start to their lives.
HIV is a deadly disease, but it’s preventable. Although great progress has been made in preventing and treating HIV, it’s crucial to stay vigilant so that those at greatest risk are protected – and SAWSO remains committed to that goal.
Angola Saurimo Health Department