Female Health Workers Ensure Services Continue Throughout COVID-19
Abdirizak Awil Barre is aged 7 months old but, in appearance, looked less than 3 months. He was admitted to a Stabilisation Centre for nutritional assessment and treatment following consecutive episodes of diarrhoea and periodic vomiting with an elevated temperature and refusal to breastfeed. Out of the fear of COVID-19, Abdirizak’s mother, Nimco, did not seek treatment for several weeks. “I kept indoors.t I feared contracting the deadly virus”, said Nimco.
Abdirizak was admitted to the Stabilisation Centre thanks to a health promoter and female health worker (FHW) called Khadra. During one of her regular home visits in the camp, Khadra found the Nimco nursing her sick child. She found out that the child had been sick for some time without treatment. She advised the fearful mother to take the baby to the nearest health facility – Aden Saleban Health Centre (HC). At Aden Saleban HC, the baby was diagnosed with diarrhoea and a fever, and was very dehydrated and weak. They quickly referred the baby to Burao Hospital Stabilisation Centre for further management and treatment.
On reaching Burao Hospital Stabilisation Centre, the doctor determined that Abdirizak Awil was not only afflicted with gastro-enteritis and dehydration, but also showed signs of severe acute malnutrition (SAM). They immediately started rehydration treatment, multivitamins, antibiotic ceftriaxone, iron and albendazole, which is used to fight infections caused by parasitic worms. He was also given F100, a therapeutic milk formula, to treat severe malnutrition.
Abdirizak’s condition soon began to improve and he was in a stable condition and able to breastfeed again. The Stabilisation Centre team stepped up to provide the mother, Nimco, with appropriate counselling, providing information on the weaning process. Nimco and her child were discharged from the facility and advised to attend Aden Saleban Health Centre for a follow-up assessment.
Nimco is a 38-year-old woman with five children. Like most women at the internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, she relies on relief food and other donations from well-wishers and relatives. Her husband works as a casual laborer which is not a reliable source of income.
She says, “I am so grateful to the CHW for visiting my house and advising me on what to do. I felt a big change in the condition of my child who has now recovered well and we thank Allah and the doctors who attended him promptly, “I didn’t pay even a single dollar and all services were free. I was told all is paid by SHINE supply project” she added. I will advocate to all my community (IDPs in the camp) to strongly utilize this free service.”
Abdirizak’s case is an example of how well-equipped facilities, with essential drugs and well-trained health care physicians, who are motivated and adequately skilled to attend to patients, can improve the health and save the lives of children with severe conditions.