Health is an important part of our work in Tanzania. We try to ensure that children in our care are protected from disease and their development monitored so that they can achieve their full potential.
Homeless children face many threats to their health. Malnutrition may leave them more vulnerable to infectious diseases such as gastroenteritis, malaria, tuberculosis, polio, dengue fever and HIV/AIDS. Living on the street carries the additional risks of physical and emotional abuse.
Malaria is endemic in Tanzania, so we take care that all the children sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets and we fumigate all the buildings with a long-acting insecticide twice a year. Despite these measures one or two children develop fever every month and require a hospital visit to treat malaria if necessary.
A new medical adviser
This year MalaikaKids has sharpened its focus on healthcare and engaged a full-time medical adviser.
Dr Simon Cooper is a retired GP with a qualification in Tropical Medicine and several years’ experience working in East Africa. With his wife Jane, a retired consultant physician, they visited the Children’s Village in October and examined all the children, not only to look for disease but also to check on immunisations and growth and development, using established WHO standards. Two new health records were developed and should help to provide a more consistent approach to healthcare recording.
Below is Alice, one of the mothers with special responsibility for nursing in the Village with Simon working on the new recording system.
Several significant health problems have been identified. One of our girls has both hearing and visual impairment and she now has hearing aids and ongoing treatment for her eyes. Another of our children has epilepsy and on medication has not had a fit for over a year. A further child was discovered to have a benign tumour in his ear and has been referred for assessment at the local hospital.
Our local hospital is Mkuranga district hospital and a formal visit by Dr Cooper and James Kalinga was arranged to establish friendly links and ensure close co-operation between the charity and our nearest healthcare provider. In the process we achieved a greater understanding of the different services available to us from our local hospital.
In general the children at Malaika Kids are healthy. Most of them are very fit and some have represented their school and district at football and volleyball.
To make sure that they stay healthy, Dr Cooper is in close contact with James Kalinga, the Village Manager, to advise on medical matters and will be visiting at least once a year for the next five years.