Every Child Thrives - Father's Getting More Involved

Playing outside and getting dirty is part of growing up.  This shouldn't be a concern for a parent, but for children in the countries where we work, simple activities like playing outside expose them to the risk of contracting parasitic worms. The infections are transmitted by worm eggs or larvae present in human feces which in turn contaminate the soil. Poor sanitation increases the odds of infections.  These parasites lead to malnutrition and cause unnecessary pain, discomfort, and illness in infected children. 

effect:hope launched a program called Every Child Thrives to counter the effects of soil-transmitted helminths. This project combined deworming treatment and vitamin A supplementation for children under 5 years old in areas of Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya from March 2016 to March 2020. 

Deworming and vitamin A supplementation programs were integrated to address both soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections and vitamin A deficiency that affect young children. STH infections are caused by intestinal worms and are one of twenty Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). 

Thank you for helping the children who needed it most. Together with you and our partners - Ministries of Health, MAP International, Helen Keller International, the Government of Canada and Vitamin Angels-  we were able to help almost 2 million of vulnerable pre-school children stay healthy so they can play and learn and grow. 

Not only did we distribute combined deworming treatment and vitamin A supplementation, we also addressed gender equality barriers related to child health and nutrition. Here is a short update from our Project Coordinator in Côte d’Ivoire.

A father encouraged to get involved in his child’s health

He was visiting a village in the district of Yakasse-Attobrou during the mass health campaign. He noticed that most of the children in the line-up at the local hospital showed up with their moms.  

Except one!  

A man was holding a baby with a woman by his side. This was a rare sight indeed; the only father in a line up of mothers with their babies! 

In Côte d’Ivoire, men usually give money to the women to go to the hospital on their own and don’t get directly involved in their children’s health. Gender equality and inclusion are important for good health, and often women and children aren’t able to get health care because this is not supported by the men in their lives. Their husbands, fathers, brothers or uncles make the decisions on whether to spend time and money on medical visits, medicines and transport to the clinic or hospital.

When asked, the father told the Project Coordinator that this baby was their first child and he wants to accompany his wife to the hospital for their maternal and child health checks. He credited the community awareness activities that happen in preparation for the deworming and vitamin A distribution – He said that our partners convinced him that his involvement in his child's health is beneficial. Our partner healthcare workers and volunteers also educated people about gender equality issues during this campaign - This father said he found the gender sensitization very helpful and encouraging and recommends this behaviour for all the fathers.

To see a father not only supporting his wife to take their child for health checks but accompanying them to the clinic and taking an active interest, this is a great sign of change in attitude toward his role in his child’s health. 

Thanks again for partnering with us in this project. We couldn’t have done this without you! 

For more information on gender equality and the Every Child Thrives project or visit Workshop 1.4 Applying gender equality and inclusion in NTD interventions to achieve equitable health services to watch our workshop from the 2020 Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network (NNN) Conference or click here to read more.