It takes a village
In communities like Volta, where people have been living in extreme poverty, improving child health is a complex challenge. Lack of clean water and sanitation are two of the main reasons child mortality is so high, but it's not enough to simply invest in new water and sanitation systems.
First, we have to invest in local people so they can oversee the creation and ongoing management of their own projects. That requires tools and training, as do all the roles that need to be carried out by local people to ensure that improvements are sustainable. This includes local health volunteers, youth group members, teachers, parents, and especially mothers, who are vital to ensuring that children stay healthy.
Rebecca, our Health Advisor in Ghana, has been working with Plan for over ten years and has been involved in Volta's development since the beginning of the Community Sponsorship. She has taken part in a wide range of initiatives, including the creation of a new clinic, but says that more than anything else, health awareness programs aimed at mothers have had the greatest positive impact on children's health.
"They know more about nutritional health, sanitation and how to recognize, treat and prevent childhood diseases like malaria, pneumonia and malnutrition," she says. "They've got access to information on family planning, breast feeding and immunization. And they know how to prevent anemia in their children, protect their water supply, and keep themselves and their babies healthy through pregnancy and childbirth."
"Of course", she adds, "it's not just women who need to be involved. The broader community and men play a strong supporting role, especially husbands during pregnancy, childbirth and in the weeks immediately following, which are crucial times for both infants and mothers."
return to the Volta homepage