Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Ethiopia: Fruits of our labour


Fruits of our labour. Plant a seed. Teach them to fish. All are familiar phrases that address doing something for someone in order to make them self sufficient and show their success, to give them an opportunity to succeed, and to put in place a plan that will grow. It is what we strive to do for those who are less fortunate than most, and who are willing, dedicated, motivated and driven to make the best of what they have been given. The Healthcare Worker (HCW) program I developed 7 years ago, is that seed, that teaching to "fish", that opportunity, to give those lay persons who are responsible for the welfare of our MoM children, the knowledge and the tools to ensure that our children are healthy. The intent of the HCW program is to ensure sustainability of healthcare needs of the children after our medical teams leave. The HCW becomes the one source for healthcare needs in their projects. There are now trained HCWs in Cambodia, Swaziland, Ethiopia and Kenya. The question is, has the HCW program been successful. That's why I'm here in Ethiopia. To see if it has made a difference. I spent several hours the first day reviewing their knowledge base, given them some advanced lectures and quizzing them. No need for worries there. They were sharp, inquisitive and motivated. I then went to the projects and did a medical standards assessment on the healthcare of the children. Here is a summary:

We have 11 projects in Ethiopia with about 3000 children that we care for. There are 9 HCWs here, having completed their training just over a year ago when we came here to do clinics. They worked with us for 5 days and were seeing patients on their own most of the time, making the right diagnosis and starting the right treatment. In one year since they have been on their own, here's what I've found:

1. referrals to outside clinics are down by 55%

2. healthcare costs for the projects are also down by 50%

3. the HCW is seeing on average 10 children a month

4. 32 children were identified with potentially life threatening illness, treated and never hospitalized

5. children with chronic illness such as TB, malnutrition and anemia have been identified and are followed on a regular schedule of physical exams and treatment by the HCW

6. medical records for all children are now in the child's respective folder

Outcome measures that are positive, fruitful and successful. There is more that I've found in addition to what I've listed above, but I hope you see the effect of this HCW program. The MoM are well cared for.

I leave for Kenya tomorrow to do the same there, except this time, I'll have my medical team with me. 18 US team members. We will have 5 days of clinics and the HCWs will work with us. Fruits of our labour. Planting a seed. Teaching them to fish. THe children are better for it.

In all things give thanks,