Author Archive

Protecting Life Where Death is Everyday Conversation

Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2012 at 9:11 am

By Megan Christensen, Health Officer, Concern Worldwide US

 

I have been lucky to visit many of the countries where Concern Worldwide works. In my travels, I met many people and witnessed many things, some inspiring and some heartbreaking.

My most recent trip to Sierra Leone was no different.

Concern Health Officer, Megan Christensen holding a newborn child, whose mother took the initiative to seek immediate-care at the health facility after being encouraged to do so by her husband, the community and Concern.

Sierra Leone is a country emerging from ten years of civil war and armed conflict. I saw commitment to work from the ground-up to rebuild. The people are positive and hopeful. The government is active and forward-thinking. I was there last February, and in a year and a half, I have seen progress.

This is partly because of an initiative that the government took in 2010 to provide free health care to women and children. Today, more women and children are accessing health care, and more of them are aware of when and how to access it.

However, there are still major challenges. Some clinics still struggle with having a steady stream of supplies, like antibiotics. We still don’t have all the information we need to understand why people are dying and what they are getting sick from. For example, we know that 60 percent of births are happening in birth facilities, in the presence of a trained birth attendant, but that’s only half the picture. Where is the other 40 percent giving birth?  Who is with them?  Why did they not go to a health facility?

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Addressing preventable deaths in Malawi

Posted on Friday, March 5th, 2010 at 9:56 am

Some 12 percent of all children in Malawi do not survive to celebrate their fifth birthday. Photo: Concern Worldwide

I have arrived in the Concern office in Lilongwe, capital of Malawi. The goal in the next week is to gather as much information on the current health situation of mothers and children in Malawi, and develop a program strategy about how to address the problems.

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How our youth health volunteers have transformed lives in Haiti

Posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Typical scene in informal slums of Haiti. Some 42 percent of Haitians had no access to clean drinking water even before the earthquake. Photo: Megan Christensen, Concern Worldwide

I arrived in Haiti the end of 2009, when the earthquake had not yet devastated the capital of Port-au-Prince. Initially, I was intimidated by the robust presence of the United Nations police and peacekeeping forces. But, according to Concern’s Haiti staff, the UN presence had played a major role in stabilizing this island nation and improving the security situation for the people living here.

At that time, Haiti’s streets were vibrant and full of life and despite the many challenges people seemed happy and hopeful about a more prosperous future.

According to reports from my colleagues in the field, that resilience has not been hampered by the recent disaster. Read the rest of this entry »

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Five Hours Away Mothers Are Still Dying During Childbirth

Posted on Monday, November 23rd, 2009 at 4:23 pm

In Cite Okay neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, poor sanitation and water quality have been a major threat to the health of the community. Concern has been working with local organizations, youth volunteers and health committees to clean up neighborhoods and promote clean, litter free environments.

In Cite Okay neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, poor sanitation and water quality have been a major threat to the health of the community. Concern has been working with local organizations, youth volunteers and health committees to clean up neighborhoods and promote clean, litter free environments.

It is difficult to imagine that just 700 miles from United States soil, mothers are still dying in childbirth and children continue to pay the ultimate price for contracting such preventable diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition.

For Haitians, the health situation is the worst in the western hemisphere. To make matters worse, the country is threatened by extreme weather conditions including major hurricanes and tropical storms that are destroying infrastructure and uprooting livelihoods. Read the rest of this entry »

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