This week Liona and Nicole were placed at the Save a Life centre. We only got to spend a short time here, but we gained so much from the experience. We really enjoyed watching the healing process that malnourished children from this community go through in the program at the Save a Life centre. Over the three days the two of us worked at their health clinic, feeding program, went on home visits and helped take care for the children who were admitted into the centre. We were able to see all the steps that these children go through over the course of the program.
Today in the clinic Nicole assessed a young child who was under weight. She referred this child to Dr. Lisette at the save a life centre where he could properly be assessed for malnutrition. At the centre Liona helped complete a full physical examination on this child. He was 3 standard deviations away from his ideal weight/height. This child was admitted into the feeding program as an out patient. The next step for him will be to return every Wednesday for the feeding program.
Alternatively, if there is a child who severely malnourished and is not well enough to be treated at home, he/she would be admitted into the program as an in patient. He/she would live at the centre with their caregiver where their feedings will be controlled and monitored until the child is well enough to live at home. During this time the mother is educated on how to properly feed the child at the centre and at home. Once a patient becomes well enough, they go back to their homes and become outpatients.
After the initial admission as an out patient into the program the child and parent are expected to attend weekly meetings at the centre. Here they provide education on different diseases, and ways of improving their quality of living, such as today's topic "how to start a business" or last weeks "how to avoid malaria". Weekly food rations are handed out to each child.
Workers at the save a life centre also visit the children on home visits. They try and visit each child once a week where they re-assess the living conditions, the food supply, and teaching done that week at the feeding program.
Over the last few weeks a lot of our fellow nursing students have witnessed how the limited resources and lack of education negatively impact the health of this community. They've been frustrated with not being able to provide care like we receive at home. We wanted to highlight an amazing program here in Mongu that has been a positive experience for us. We really noticed great continuity of care here at the Save a Life Centre. The workers are diligent in following these children throughout the program. They are passionate about providing care to those who really need it and are clearly making a difference.
We really enjoyed watching how the workers reiterate the teaching from the weekly meetings at their home visits. They quizzed the mothers on what they learned the previous week and reinforced any information that the mothers had forgotten. The lessons they provided were simple but informative. To us it seemed like common knowledge, but to the mothers it was new information. I think we forget how privileged our education system is. Something so simple for us might be way over their heads, especially these mothers who probably only have a primary education level. Most can not speak English let alone read. The home visits provide the centre with so much more information about the social determinants of health of the child. It allows them to individually tailor teaching needs to each family. This is so important in health care as we know that everyone learns and receives information differently.
The care that these people give extends beyond just the Save a Life Centre. They also provide transportation to the hospital should any of the children require appointments or medicines. It was refreshing to see so much dedication from health care professions in a place where we have continuously seen patients at the bottom of the hierarchy. We are used to seeing patient centred care back home, and this week we got to see that at the clinic and centre.
Watching the relationships form between the mothers of the in-patient children was amazing to see. These mothers formed their own community within the centre helping each other care for their children. Save a Life Centre is just one program within The Zambia Project. We want to applaud all the workers and the dedication they put into helping the children of Mongu.
(Some of the hope art)