Firsthand glimpses of the global health poverty gap

By: Semakale, Makopano, Communications Manager with World Vision Lesotho & Alice Bafiala, Communications Manager, DRC

Semakale, Makopano, Communications Manager with World Vision Lesotho reflects on an experience with the Child Health Now team visiting a local health centre.

It is Wednesday morning at Bethany health centre in Sefikaneng, Lesotho.

I am visiting the health centre with the World Vision Child Health Now team to learn more about how the centre is run. I am also interested in learning more about the ‘global poverty health gap’ that exists, which can be seen in communities such as this one.

Just when we were about to park our vehicle outside the health centre, we are told by a nurse that the vaccines that are needed today have not reached the clinic. Many mothers and their children had come to the centre to be vaccinated.

The vaccines are at another clinic- which is two hours away in the direction that we had just come. 

My colleagues and I agree that we should assist. We drive to the health centre to pick-up the vaccines.

I thought to myself, ‘If we had been told about the vaccines earlier, we would not have made so many trips back and forth.’ But I also thought that if we did not help, the children at the clinic would not be vaccinated. These children and their parents would be turned away- many of them had travelled long distances to reach the clinic today.

By the time we return, the clinic is buzzing with children and their mothers waiting to be vaccinated. I see one mother with her child, who is patiently waiting for her turn.  I look at her and I imagine how she would feel if she were to go back home without getting her child immunized.

Alice Bafiala, Communications Manager, Democratic Republic of the Congo write about how malnutrition is impacting child lives

It’s November 2012, Martine, aged 5, in Gemena, Democratic Republic of the Congo, was about to die due to severe acute malnutrition.

‘We realised that Martine was really sick when the colour of her hair had completely changed. She could not even eat. We tried to take her to the hospital, but we didn’t have enough money to ensure her healthcare,’ explains Martin Zakola, the father.

Martine’s situation was reported by a volunteer to the World Vision staff who was registering children for sponsorship. World Vision helped to transfer Martine to a health centre where she received the necessary medical attention.

Martine weighed only 9 kg when she arrived at the health centre. After two weeks of hospitalisation, she recovered to good health and left the hospital, weighing 13 kg.

While she was being treated, her parents were trained on improving child nutrition. Along with other parents, they were given training on a balanced diet and new ways of preparing meals in order to improve nutritional value. 

Other children in Gemena are not as lucky as Martine.  Malnutrition in children is a silent emergency. According to UNICEF, more than 40 per cent of children under five suffer from malnutrition in this country.

World Vision is working with organisations like National Nutrition Programme (PRONANUT) to educate, train and refer cases of malnutrition to local health centres in the DRC.

*The upcoming ‘close the gap’ global mobilisation - which will take place ahead of the September United Nations General Assembly - will focus on the issues of overcoming inequity so that all children can survive their first 5 years. Take action here.