Medical Teams International, in collaboration with the Christian Health Association of Liberia (CHAL), recently began the training of 20 community health promoters (CHPs) selected from towns and villages in all five districts of Grand Cape Mount County, Liberia. The trainees are all residents of the County.
The Beneficiaries Have All Pledged to Go Back to Their Villages and Towns to Help Others
Medical Teams International, in collaboration with the Christian Health Association of Liberia (CHAL), recently began the training of 20 community health promoters (CHPs) selected from towns and villages in all five districts of Grand Cape Mount County. The trainees are all residents of the County.
The CHPs are being trained on the importance of immediate and exclusive breastfeeding. After the workshop, they are expected to go back to their various towns and villages and train selected household health promoters (HHPs), comprising mainly illiterate women, who will in turn go from house to house, teaching others, especially women of reproductive age, the importance of immediate and exclusive breastfeeding.
CHAL community outreach coordinator Christine V. Washington and Medical Teams International training coordinator Yei Q. Yini, explaining what was meant by 'immediate and exclusive' breastfeeding, said when a woman gave birth she should 'immediately give her baby her breast milk'. Both ladies claimed that the breast milk is free and comprises important ingredients that keep the baby healthy and relatively safe from most childhood diseases. On 'exclusive', they explained that the baby should be kept 'only' on breast milk for the first six months before the introduction of any other food.
Medical Teams International supports the transformation of communities in the areas of primary healthcare (PHC) as part of its four-year Entry Category Child Survival Project, which runs up to September of 2010; it began October of last year (2006) and is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
According to the Child Survival Project (CSP) Manager, Dr. (MD) Saye Dahn Baawo, the training, which is the first in the country, was aimed at reducing mortality and morbidity of children less than five years old. “This project,” the medical doctor continued, “is serving all five districts, and benefits the entire population of the County (127,124 inhabitants), including direct benefit to 21, 611 children under five and 29,239 women of reproductive age.”
He further said that the project was being implemented by MTI, an international Christian medical organization, in partnership with CHAL, a local NGO with substantial health and community development experience, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH/SW) and the Grand Cape Mount County Health Team (GCMCHT).
Medical Teams International and its partners emphasize the community's role in planning and implementation, and the mobilization of existing local resources to achieve the desired objectives, which among others, according to Dr. Baawo, who hails from Nimba, include targeting behavioral change at the household level through implementation of community Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI).
The CHAL community outreach coordinator also said that the four-year Entry Category Child Survival Project focus points would include breastfeeding and nutrition, pneumonia case management, and control of diarrhea diseases. Others, she disclosed, would include malaria control and immunization.
Two of the workshop beneficiaries, a female, Nowai Fahnbulleh from Garwula District and Senesee Alvin Williams, a male from Porkpa District, who gave their impressions to our reporter in separate statements, said they were being armed by what their facilitators were teaching them and were ready to go back to their towns and villages to teach the HHPs.
Note: This article was originally published in the Liberian Daily Observer on November 6, 2007. Medical Teams International reproduced the article with permission from the author.