Saturday, April 9, 2016

Nutrition Screening Event!

Well that was an adventure! The three of us planned a nutrition education and screening event for the community of Mongu. Event planning in Zambia is very different than it is in Canada. Every errand takes extra steps. For example, when you need to get things laminated or printed it takes about eight different stops. Luckily the taxi drivers in Mongu are amazing, especially Mike! He took us on all of our errands and would barter, translate, laminate, navigate, and even chop wood! We could not have done all these necessary tasks without Mike by our side. The house moms at Liseli Lodge were another huge help for this event! All the posters we made had to be translated into the local language, Silozi, and the house moms were more than willing to help out.

The day of the event was very exciting. There were six stations that community members would visit. Up first was the screening station which looked for malnutrition based on measuring arm circumferences and body weights. Based on what we found, we would refer patients to the Save a Life clinic if they were moderately malnourished or Lewanika General Hospital if they were severely malnourished. After being screened, next up were the education stations on infant care, childhood nutrition, obesity, and hygiene. Once properly educated, people could visit the nutrition station, where we displayed examples of healthy and unhealthy food, as well as the cost to show that it could be purchased on a budget. We also served maize meal porridge with groundnuts (a common high protein nut found in Mongu) with the help of the lovely Save A Life clinic staff. In addition to all the other stations, we also a blood pressure station where we screened for hypertension and would refer based on WHO guidelines.

The day of the event was the windiest day we have had in Mongu and the posters and tablecloths were flying everywhere! Within an hour we had children swarming and long lines forming along at the screening station. We were so excited to see this! It was awesome to see that moms and their babies were present and would sit at the education stations for 20 minutes because they really wanted to learn what we had to teach. People were really interested in the information as this type of event does not often happen in Mongu. We had the Zambian nursing students, public health students, and nutrition students helping at the event. This was a great help at all the stations as well as for translating and crowd control. At the end of the event the malnutrition screening station had screened over 500 people and the blood pressure station over 90. We were so proud of these numbers and the community response to the event.

We were able to donate a lot of the supplies and posters to the wards at the hospital after the event. The next day, we learned that a mom had already taken her baby to the Save A Life clinic based on our referral! What a proud moment for us.

This event was a once in a life time opportunity and we were so grateful to be able to take part in it. We learned so much working along side Zambian healthcare workers and were very excited to make a difference in the community that has welcomed us with open arms. It is a bittersweet moment getting ready to leave Mongu but we are all excited to start our careers as Registered Nurses!

With love from Mongu,

Jasmine, Michelle, and Dana
(Jasmine, Michelle, and Dana)

(A big thank you to all of the wonderful Save a Life staff!)

(Everyone is excited about the activity station!)

(Canadian and Zambian nursing students working together at the education station)

(Making groundnut porridge)

(In line waiting to be screened for malnutrition)

(Food Station)

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