“I am always amazed and inspired by people I meet in African countries – in their warm welcome of strangers, their optimism when facing challenges and perseverance to continue making life better for generations to come.”
— Sara Marshall, effect:hope Every Child Thrives program manager
As a brief introduction, the Every Child Thrives project is a partnership between effect:hope, MAP International, Vitamin Angels and the Kenyan Ministry of Health. It is a four-year project to reduce child morbidity and mortality among preschoolers, children under the age of 5, in Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire through Vitamin A supplementation and deworming medication.
By ensuring the health of young children, we are ensuring that they thrive, and have a fair chance for a healthy life. This work is challenging, but critical to our commitment to the future of the communities we serve, to neglected people facing the consequences of rare but curable diseases.
Sara, our Program Manager, was able to share insights after some important conversations with our partners on the ground.
What are the most immediate & pressing needs you have seen?
Approximately 84% of children under the age of 5 are Vitamin A deficient and the child mortality rate is 52%. Currently, Vitamin A and deworming tablets are not given to children at the same time, even though WHO recommends this practice to ensure children are absorbing the Vitamin A they need for healthy growth and development, rather than losing vitamins
and nutrients to intestinal worms. Vitamin A deficiency suppresses immunity and leaves children more susceptible to illnesses such as measles, malaria, and diarrhea. Right now, the government faces challenges in reaching children in rural areas, with issues of access and transport to health facilities, and in getting the drugs and health workers organized. The Ministry of Health employees and health providers are parents, and like all parents they want to make sure their children are healthy; they know that Vitamin A supplementation and deworming will give their kids proper nourishment, good eyesight, good iron levels, the energy to learn at school, and proper growth and development that is key to their success in education and work later in life.
What are some of the successes of the Every Child Thrives Project that you have observed?
The Kenya Ministry of Health is working hard to improve child health in their country and look to the support of partners like MAP International and effect:hope in finding long term solutions that allow them to provide better health care for their children. We are working together to address low Vitamin A coverage rates and to improve coordination of supplementation and
deworming from National to County to community levels. The new training course is a very important step towards this and will help ensure there are enough health providers to provide all children with Vitamin A capsules and deworming, as well as educate parents and caregivers on the importance of nutrition, vitamin supplementation and deworming for their children.
At effect:hope, we have a fierce commitment to the dignity and future of the communities where we work. We know that in order to make sure that children reach their full potential they need to be healthy. They need to avoid contracting, and to prevent, dangerous Neglected Tropical Diseases, from leprosy to Buruli ulcer to worms (soil transmitted helminths), so that they can go to school and thrive.
Please continue to pray for the children we serve around the world. Pray for the health workers who devote their lives to this work. We know that God has great love and passion for his children and this is why we work the way we do.