Times of India, May 2013
A pivotal clinical study of India's first indigenous rotavirus vaccine...
How can we make an impact on child health in far-away countries for those of us who are working from our desks in the US?
We think this is an incredibly important question, and so do our Facebook friends. In fact, when we recently interviewed Alfred Ochola, our DD program implementer in Western Kenya, one of you asked Alfred for his thoughts on the matter. Here’s what he had to say:
This question is fundamental to child survival and therefore needs more than a one-line answer or solution. The following points may help:
1. The support should be directed to a place where there is need: places where morbidity and mortality from diseases like diarrhea, pneumonia, malnutrition, and malaria are very high.
2. Get a person to represent your interest at the community/implementation level, one who knows how to use the community and work with the systems there to cause a meaningful change through the community’s own participation to solve their problems. The solutions must be homebred.
3. Embrace some combination of all interventions for diarrheal disease: vaccines, ORT Corners with low-osmolarity ORS and zinc, exclusive breastfeeding, safe water and sanitation, and personal hygiene. These should not be done in isolation.
4. Strategies should consider issues of access, costs, and acceptability in areas where culture and poverty may inhibit uptake, and goals set should be reviewed every 6 months to 1 year for possibility of strategy changes.
5. Programs should be child-centered and not Ministry centered. When communicating about your program, do not say, “We are helping the Ministry,” but rather, “We are helping the children of region (x) by doing (y).” It is known, from experiences elsewhere, that some well intended support from people working at desks, like you, have only reached adults but reached very few children and community members, which was the primary target.
What are your program’s perspectives on improving child survival from afar? We’d love to hear your feedback and success stories!
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Photo credit: Hope Randall/PATH