We know that the first 1,000 days of life are essential for optimum health and development across a person’s lifetime. Given the challenges of inaccessible health care in our area, we realised we must take a holistic approach when addressing the needs of early childhood development in our community, that not only includes cognitive and social-emotional learning, but also offers children necessary health care, proper nutrition, and regular monitoring. In order to provide this developmental support, our early childhood development and health work are integrated.
Our Community health workers (Nomakhayas) received 4 weeks of ‘Mother and Child’ Health training at Zithulele hospital by Philani and 6 days of on-site mentoring each. This training has strengthened their health capacity at households for those 0-3 years (not attending ECD yet). They carry out growth monitoring, developmental milestone assessments, and ensure that immunisations, deworming and Vitamin A provision are on schedule. If a child is not on track, they are referred to our local Bulungula Health Point, where our Nurse (who recently received training in Child Clinical Management, and revised her Integrated Management of Childhood Illness) will provide basic care and referral if needed.
At our ECD sites, our health team also provides six monthly growth monitoring, development milestone assessment, deworming and vitamin A provision, along with annual vision and hearing screening.
Furthermore, this year, we have significantly developed our relationship with the Department of Health, and have worked diligently to have the Bulngula Health Point approved as an official fixed outreach point of Nkanya Clinic. This new status secures the Health Point with monthly supplies of medicines and consumables, including child immunisations.
In order to properly store the vaccines, we set up a cold chain at the health point, using solar power, and a fridge. Now, children are able to receive all government required vaccinations from birth to 6 years—locally!
With your support, we are able to provide wholesome care for our children in order to ensure the healthy growth of their minds and bodies.