Friday, March 22, 2013

Child receives care thanks to neighbors' referrals

IECM is well known and trusted within the communities it serves. The story of one child who was admitted this week as an inpatient is a testimony to IECM’s reputation in Rukungiri.

Herbert (not his real name) is two and a half years old and clings to his mother’s body, his grip loosens and his swollen and fretful face brightens as his mother shares a chapatti with him, part of the free breakfast she received since being enrolled in the Meals for Mothers program. Herbert’s mother arrived the previous day to Nyakibale after Herbert was diagnosed with marasmus kwashiorkor at one of IECM’s outreach locations. Marasmus kwashiorkor is a severe form of malnutrition caused by a lack of protein and calories in the child’s diet and presents visibly as swelling in the legs, stomach and face with wasting (loss of fat) as well. The swelling, or edema, is diagnosed using the dent test; a health worker presses her finger on the child’s foot for three seconds. If a dent remains after releasing, the child has edema.
Pictorial representation of the dent
 test used to check for edema.
Nurse performs the dent test on
Herbert. He is positive for edema;
compare to photo on the left.

Herbert’s mother, Anna (not her real name) attended IECM’s outreach based on the advice of three other mothers, all of who had children who were previously treated at Nyakibale. These mothers recognized the same symptoms in Herbert as they had seen in their own children and recommended that Anna take her child to IECM’s nearest outreach site.

Anna says that she was not worried about coming to the hospital based on the testimonies of these fellow mothers. She wants to stay at the hospital until Herbert is healthy. She understands that the swelling in her child is due to poor feeding but does not yet understand what constitutes a balanced diet.

Thanks to their previous experience with IECM – receiving medical care and nutrition education on the pediatric ward, Anna’s neighbors recognized Herbert’s swollen legs and face as symptoms of malnutrition and referred him to an IECM outreach site. Based on their accounts, she was not fearful of leaving home to bring her child to the hospital. Herbert is now receiving the care he needs and is on his way to recovery.

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