The health situation in Gushegu district is poor. Many still suffer and die from diseases which could be prevented or reduced through greater awareness and improved hygiene at home. Project share aims to tackle this through community health education, rehabilitation of malnourished children, and working in partnership with the existing health facilities. You can read more about our main health project, Neesim Nutrition Centre, here.
The infant mortality rate (number of children under 5 who die) is fairly high, with malaria, diarrhoea, respiratory infections and malnutrition as the main causes of death. For women, pregnancy related diseases are an additional problem.
Hygiene and family health practices are a major area of concern to us, as many diseases and problems have their root here. Many of these diseases could be prevented through greater awareness and improved hygiene. Other diseases, such as malaria, have fairly simple practical preventions.
Data on HIV/AIDS in the district is scarce, mostly due to the majority of the people not knowing their status, but the figures are feared to be high. Stigma and ignorance play a large role in this area. The Gushegu polyclinic and hospital offer testing and counselling, though only a handful of people have made use of these facilities so far. Hepatitis B has also become a major issue in recent times and Ghana Health Services is now trying to raise awareness and increase early detection and treatment.
In the Gushegu district, there is one hospital and several clinics and health posts. All of these are understaffed and many have problems with facilities and supplies. Before attending these health facilities, many people first seek help from traditional healers or cock-doctors (untrained people who administer medical treatment). This can be due to a lack of education, a worldview which sees illness to always have spiritual causes, and sometimes poor interpersonal relations between health workers and local people seeking medical treatment.
In 2005 the National Health Insurance Scheme was instituted for a very reasonable price. However, many people in Gushegu district still do not have health insurance, because they have not yet understood its benefits.
Our aims are…
… to improve general health conditions in the district;
… to reduce sickness through prevention and improved healthy life-style;
… to increase appropriate home treatment for common family diseases such as mild malnutrition, diarrhoea, etc;
… to increase prompt and appropriate care-seeking, through increased knowledge of symptoms and increased participation in the National Health Insurance Scheme;
… to support and stimulate the existing health facilities to improve the quality and effectiveness of their services.
What do we do?
- In September 2009 we opened a nutrition centre, offering a place for rehabilitation of severely malnourished children and educating their mothers on balanced nutrition and other health-related issues such as hygiene and common illnesses. Since opening the centre we have rehabilitated over 400 children. You can find out more about the nutrition centre here.
- We conduct regular outreaches in the local communities to educate on nutrition and other health issues, and to screen for malnourished children. In the past we have also organised mother-to-mother support groups which work through a health education course together. We recently conducted food demonstrations to educate women on how to prepare some highly-nutritious and locally-available foodstuffs which are not commonly used here.
- Short-term team members do medical or nursing placements at the local hospital. Wherever possible we work to partner with and support the existing health facilities in the district.
- Every so often we organise a medical outreach, offering free health care to those who for various reasons have limited access to the existing facilities.
Did you know that in the Gushegu district*…
- …around 35% of all children under 5 are malnourished and 10% are severely malnourished?
- …only 33% of children aged 6-9 months are given solid food in addition to breastfeeding?
- …almost 95% of the households do not use iodised salt, leading to preventable diseases such as goitre?
- …only about 40% of children under 5 sleep under a bed-net?
- …about 35% of people fetch their drinking water from unsafe sources such as a dam or an unsafe well?
- …about 90% go to the toilet out in the open?
- …99% of sexually active people between 15-49 years do not use any form of contraceptive?
- …90% of sexually active people (15-49) claim to know the basics about HIV, yet hardly any practice safe methods?
- …90% of women give birth in the presence of an untrained friend or relative?
* Source: UNICEF, High Impact Rapid Delivery (HIRD) Supplementary Survey 2007, Northern Region Preliminary Report