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Explore new humanitarian models to deal with refugees


By Dr Caroline Kisia


The refugee numbers are staggering. And they seem to rise every day. According to the United Nations, there are more than 60 million forcibly displaced persons globally. Of these, about 20 million are refugees, a 24 per cent increase since 2000.


There is an urgent need to come up with mechanisms that not only resolve conflict when it occurs, but also prevent it. This means political solutions. In the meantime, organisations like Action Africa Help International (AAH-I), a regional organisation based in Kenya, are working to support new models of humanitarian assistance that ensure displaced people are able to maintain their dignity and to some degree, become self-reliant.


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Cholera: Why Is an Ancient Scourge Still with Us?


It was devastating and catastrophic. More than 30,000 Rwandan refugees died in less than a month in camps in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), after they fled from genocide in their own country. “There were piles of bodies alongside the road in Goma. People suddenly collapsed in front of your Landrover, and you had to swerve very fast to avoid them” recalls Mukesh Kapila who dealt with the UK government’s humanitarian response during the Rwanda crisis.


The deaths were due to cholera 22 years ago, reminding us of the untold suffering of persons in conflict situations. There was a stark need to understand and manage such health emergencies with the urgency that was warranted. There were lessons to be learnt by humanitarian organisations and governments. But they were not, or they have been quickly forgotten. After the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, cholera arrived to sicken 770,000 people – about 7% of the population – and kill over 9,000 in the subsequent six years. This year alone, some 37 Haitians have been dying from cholera each month.


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Nursing students take part in marking International Day of the Midwife


Maridi School of Nursing and Midwifery  students take part in celebrations to mark International Day of the Midwife

Students from Maridi School of Nursing and Midwifery (MSNM) joined other health practitioners in commemoration of the International Day of the Midwife.

The celebration took place at Maridi Freedom Square, on May 5, where hundreds of community members had gathered to commemorate the day. This annual event is devoted to appreciating the role of midwives and healthcare professionals with midwifery skills, in accelerating progress towards improving maternal health.

The County Commissioner for Maridi County, Hon. Ismail Fatala, admitted that challenges affecting women health in the region are still far-reaching. “I would not have been here if it was not for a midwife. The efforts of midwives go unmentioned, but that does not mean that you are forgotten,” said Fatala. He affirmed the government’s support to lift the standard of the lowly-respected midwives. “We can assure you that we can support you. Our major priority is to reduce the rate of maternal and infant mortality.”

Midwives were honoured for their contribution and efforts in saving the lives of mothers, sometimes under very difficult circumstances, in hard-to-reach communities, in humanitarian emergencies, and in fragile and conflict-torn countries.

MSNM was started in the 1980’s by AAH South Sudan, as a minute nursing school. But it has grown to be among the top medical institutions in South Sudan.

In the last 20 years, more than 900 health workers have been trained at the institution. The trainees undertake their practical training at Maridi County Hospital that has been run by AAH South Sudan since its inception.  The hospital treats an average of 24,000 patients, annually.

Work starts on rehabilitating shallow wells in El Wak, Somalia

Construction of a water tank in progress in El Wak. The complete work, which includes a solar pumping system,  is expected to take three months. 

Work to rehabilitate a shallow well in El Wak town has begun, through construction of a water tank. This is one of the interventions underway as part of the Integrated Community Rehabilitation Programme in El Wak District, Gedo Region, South Central Somalia.
The water source is expected to serve people in four locations: October, Madina, Howlwadaag and Waberi. The neighbouring villages of Dharken Doqay, El Banda, Goryole and Tulo Garas, as well as pastoralists in surrounding areas, will also benefit from the well.

"This shallow well is one of the few in this town that has plenty of water. The locals depend on it for their daily consumption and also for their livestock,’’ said Mr. Alow Mohamed, one of the water committee members who has lived in El Wak for the last 35 years. “Rehabilitating this shallow well  will be beneficial, not only to us but to the neighbouring villages and to the pastoralists in the area.”

A solar water pumping system for the shallow well is scheduled to be installed in June.
AAH-I launched the integrated project in mid-February 2016, with Nomadic Assistance For Peace and Development (NAPAD), its project implementing partner.

The project's objectives include to improve household food security levels, increase local knowledge and practices related to primary health care, increase access to Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and improve livelihoods among the target population by 2018.



Traditional birth attendants trained on safe delivery

A section of the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) who attended a three-day training on the importance of women attending health facilities for delivery and follow-up. The training took place in Mushota, Kawambwa District, Luapula Province of Zambia.

“We see women give birth on the way to health facilities, while others choose to deliver from home. Some of these women loose their lives in the delivery process,” says one of the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA).

These are among the sentiments shared by the 20 TBAs who recently participated in a three-day training on the importance of pregnant women attending health facilities for delivery and follow up-services.

The women were drawn from the five catchment areas of Kawambwa District, where AAH Zambia has been implementing maternal and reproductive health services for the last two years. The training was held in Mushota catchment area.

Alubina Mulenga, 55, one of participants, said the information the group had acquired from the training had been helpful and enabled them to manage pregnancy complications when they arose.

“From 2014 to date we have seen the number of maternal and infant deaths decline because of the sensitisation we have carried out on the importance of accessing reproductive services before, during and after pregnancy. The sensitisation has been positively responded to by both men and women,” Alubina explained.

Every time a woman goes into labour, a TBA is the first point of contact in terms of facilitation for that particular woman to be taken to the health centre. “Due to the training we have undergone, we are able to detect any complications that could occur. Thus, we arrange for the mother to be taken to a health centre,” she said.

Alubina said the group also monitored the progress of the pregnancies recorded in their respective communities. They make follow-ups to ensure women visit antenatal clinics and receive all the necessary maternal health services.

“This is all thanks to AAH Zambia who have from time to time facilitated training sessions such as this one where we are guided and reminded on how to work effectively in our respective communities,” she said.

The TBAs are part of the volunteers known as Community Action Groups (CAGS) that AAH Zambia has been working with to implement maternal and reproductive health service activities in Kawambwa for two years.



Inspiring story ahead of the World Refugee day.