Archive for the Health Category

How a Flowery Plant is Fighting Malaria in Tanzania

Posted on Friday, March 15th, 2013 at 11:12 am

By Crystal Wells, Communications Officer, Concern Worldwide U.S.

Hapines is Lovenes’ first daughter and at just three months old, she is already fighting malaria.

Lovenes Joas, 22, sits on the edge of a metal-frame hospital bed, cradling her three-month-old daughter, Hapines Joas, in her arms. As she he tries to comfort her squirming daughter, Lovenes crushes up a soft yellow pill and mixes it with water. She tilts her daughter’s head back to force the syrupy liquid down her throat. Hapines wails, tears streaming down her cheeks, and slowly settles back down to a whimper against her mother’s chest.

Hapines is Lovenes’ first daughter and at just three months old, she is already fighting malaria. Lovenes and Hapines share a bed with another mother and child, Stella Peter, 30, and Nizelesos Peter, 10 months, who is also being treated for malaria. “Malaria is a big problem in my family,” says Stella, raising her voice so that we can hear her above the cries of a dozen or so children. “I am a farmer. Right now I could be farming, but I am here losing time because of malaria. It hurts the health of my kids…Even now [while I am here], my three-year-old at home has malaria, but no one is available to take him to the hospital.”

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Let’s Talk about HIV and AIDS

Posted on Friday, January 4th, 2013 at 11:53 am

By Ivy Ndiewo, Communication and Documentation Officer, Concern Worldwide

An estimated 1.6 million people are living with HIV in Kenya. While we know that the majority of them are from Nyanza Province, the region in the country’s southwest around Lake Victoria, there is much that we still do not know about HIV and AIDS in Kenya. For example, there are no clear records of the prevalence rate in urban slums, especially when many people likely do not know they are HIV-positive.

A community conversation groups meets in Migori District, Kenya. Photo: Concern Worldwide

Concern Worldwide uses what we call “community conversations” in Nyanza Province as well as Mukuru, a slum east of Nairobi, to break down many of the barriers that keep people from getting tested, and if they are diagnosed, taking antiretroviral (ARV) medications. We first piloted the approach in 2010 as a way for people to talk about their challenges and find solutions. There are now 24 community conversation groups across Nyanza Province and in Nairobi’s urban slums—all of which tackle HIV and AIDS head-on.

I spoke with my colleagues Belinda, Jane, and Julia, who are all community conversation facilitators in different areas of Mukuru. They said that community members see HIV and AIDS as one of their biggest challenges, with orphans and single parenting on the rise due to HIV and AIDS. Many are living in denial of their status, refusing to take ARVs. This is exactly where community conversations come in.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Timber and Straw: The Story of a Village Clinic in Malawi

Posted on Tuesday, December 18th, 2012 at 10:04 am

By Michael Hanly, Desk Officer for Malawi and Zimbabwe, Concern Worldwide

Concern Worldwide is supporting village clinics throughout Malawi, making health care more accessible for women and children.

In many of the countries where Concern Worldwide works, health care services can be extremely hard to come by. Malawi is no different. Mothers often have to walk for hours to get to the nearest health center—a major barrier that keeps them, and their children, from getting care when they need it.

Concern is working to make health care more accessible to communities in two areas in central Malawi, Nkhotakota and Dowa. The point of the program is to prevent and treat the major killers of children under five years old—malaria, respiratory infection, diarrhea, and malnutrition—by working with the Ministry of Health to make sure there are trained health workers based in villages, not just in centralized health centers. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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Off the Grid: A Dispatch from Burundi

Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 at 10:17 am

By Jennifer Weiss, Health Advisor, Concern Worldwide US

I started my work in Burundi around a year ago. Before I visited the country, I remember my colleague describing Burundi to me. “It’s off the grid,” she said.

Jennifer Weiss forgoes the van and continues her journey cross the rickety bridge on foot.

The comment struck me as odd. I assured her that I had lived in Africa before and was more than prepared for the work that lay ahead.  I couldn’t possibly understand what she meant by “off the grid.”

I quickly learned. Burundi, despite its geographic proximity to Tanzania, Kenya, and Rwanda, countries with growing economies and booming tourism industries, is heartbreakingly poor. In fact, Burundi is one of the world’s five poorest countries. I knew this statistic before departure. However, it wasn’t until I arrived in Burundi’s capital city of Bujumbura that I completely understood my colleague’s description. While in other capitals there are new businesses and construction, in Bujumbura there are none to be seen. When I asked a friend of mine who had been in Burundi in the ‘80s to explain how the capital had changed since then, she frankly responded: “It hasn’t.”

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A Shared History: Concern’s 40 Years in Bangladesh

Posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2012 at 2:46 pm

By Mustafa Kamal, Overseas Account Manager, Concern Worldwide

Bangladesh recently celebrated two significant 40th anniversaries. As a Bangladeshi and a member of Concern Worldwide for the past 20 years, the events have a dual-significance.  In addition to marking the independence of my country, it also was the anniversary of Concern’s first mission to support vulnerable and under-served Bangladeshi refugees in Calcutta, India following the liberation war. The response in Calcutta was Concern’s second mission as an organization and led to what is now four decades of high-impact quality programming inside Bangladesh.

This month, Concern is recognizing its 40th year in Bangladesh with events in Dhaka and our headquarters in Dublin. While much work remains to be done in Bangladesh, what we have accomplished since that first mission to support Bangladeshi refugees in 1971 is remarkable. In many ways, our work in Bangladesh has shaped Concern’s programming and how we bridge emergency response and development, and I am honored and very proud to have been a part of it, both on-the-ground in Dhaka and now in Dublin, Ireland.

My first interaction with Concern was in 1989.  I was a chartered accountant student in Dhaka and had the opportunity to be a part of consultancy project to review Concern’s financial systems. As part of this assignment, I traveled to Saidpur to review the financial systems of Concern’s programs. Read the rest of this entry »

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Found in Tanzania: Innovation and Inspiration

Posted on Monday, January 16th, 2012 at 6:55 am

By, Joseph Cahalan, President, Xerox Foundation

What started out as a trip to inspect the results of an investment the Xerox Foundation made in the Tanzanian operations of Concern Worldwide turned out to be an inspiring example of how similar people are the world over. The stated purpose of my trip to Ngara, Tanzania, miles from the Rwanda border, was to see the fruits of an innovation grant in a remote farming community where most people survive from harvest-to-harvest if not day-to-day. Concern workers there had a hunch that Lantana plants repelled mosquitoes that carry malaria which is the number one cause of death in these remote hills in northwest Tanzania. Based on their initial findings, they may just be on to a big idea. I learned all about their experiments and results, of course, but I learned so much more. Here is a recap. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Long Shot Becomes a Good Bet

Posted on Monday, January 9th, 2012 at 10:48 am

By, Joseph Cahalan, President, Xerox Foundation

After another long travel day that includes a ferry across Lake Victoria, one of the major sources of the Nile, and six hours of hard driving, much of it on jaw-jarring, pot-holed dirt roads, we arrive at Ngara by early afternoon.  I keep telling myself that innovation requires risk; that we shouldn’t expect too much: that, after all, this was a long shot to begin with.  But I am not fooling myself.  I want this experiment to bear fruit for Xerox, for the people of Concern and, mostly, for the heroic people they serve. Read the rest of this entry »

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Paving the Way for Behavior Change in Tahoua, Niger

Posted on Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 at 12:14 pm

By Jenn Weiss, Health Advisor, Concern US

Concern’s Community Animators review counseling cards that we will use to teach mothers healthy behaviors. Photo: Niger, Concern Worldwide

This summer, I traveled from the Concern US office in New York City to Tahoua, Niger, leaving the heat of the city behind and arriving to much hotter weather (130 degrees!) on the dusty and barren edge of the Sahel.  In the Tahoua region, which is about 400 kilometers north of Niamey, Niger’s capital, Concern is in the second year of its child survival programs.

Over the last decade, these programs, funded by USAID have been recognized for their impact, improving maternal and child health in Bangladesh, Rwanda, Burundi and Haiti through low-cost, community-based solutions.

Concern Niger’s Lahiya Yara (‘Life of a Child’) program aims to reach approximately 300,000 mothers and children under five years old with proven life-saving interventions to address diarrheal disease, malaria, pneumonia, and malnutrition by strengthening the health system, and by investing in intensive community-level activities to promote sustained behavior change. Read the rest of this entry »

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Battling Africa’s Number One Killer

Posted on Friday, April 22nd, 2011 at 2:28 pm
Mukarurangwa Cecile, a community health worker in Marebe, Rwanda visits the home of Valentine, 3, to examine the cause of his fever. Photo: Esther Havens, Rwanda.

By Jennifer Weiss – Health Advisor, Concern Worldwide US

According to estimates from the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly one million children do not reach their fifth birthday because they die from malaria each year.  Ninety percent of these deaths occur in Africa, where malaria remains the number one killer of young children.  An additional 30 million pregnant women and their newborns are also at risk of malaria infection, which may lead to stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, low weight, and neonatal death.

Pregnant women and children die from malaria because they lack access to low-cost, effective solutions to both prevent and treat the disease.  Concern is working to change this through our USAID-funded Child Survival programs in Rwanda, Burundi, and Niger, which provide life-saving malaria prevention and control to a total of 1.2 million women and children. Read the rest of this entry »

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