Knowledge is power: Amref Health Africa skilling communities on healthy living through a training package of Life saving skills for infants and Young Children

Pneumonia, malaria, diarrhea, HIV and AIDS, malnutrition are the leading causes of mortality among children under five years. 45% of the deaths worldwide among children under the age of 5 years are linked to undernutrition and these mostly occur in low and middle-income countries. Undernutrition makes children much more vulnerable to disease and death (WHO, 2021).

A study conducted in December 2020 in Ugandan refugee settlements and Kampala found that 74.4% of children had been initiated to breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth – a drop from 98% and 80% in October 2017 and January 2020 respectively, and Exclusively breastfeeding (62.3%) of children below 6 months and continued breastfeeding at 1 and 2 years had sustained a downtrend since 2014. The study also found that 70% of children 6-8 months had timely introduction of solid, semi-solid and soft complimentary foods, a drop from 80.5% and 75% in October 2017 and January 2020 respectively. (Food Security and Nutrition Assessment in Refugee Settlements and Kampala, December 2020).

Meet Kayen Sharon a beneficary of the Amref
Training in Adjumani

Amref Health Africa in Uganda with support from the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is implementing a Resilient migrant and host community in Africa (RMAHCA) project. The project seeks to strengthen the capacity and resilience of small-scale farmers, in particular women and youth groups to improve the nutrition and health situation for South Sudanese refugees and host communities in Adjumani (UG) and the conflict-affected population in Marida and Ibba (SSD).

Case study one –-The joy of a mother is a healthy child. My name is Kayen Sharon, an 18-year-old mother of one. My home district is Hoima, in western Uganda. I studied up to Primary Seven but my education was cut short because my parents could not afford the requirements for my secondary education. In 2019 I got a boyfriend while in Hoima who brought me to Adjumani in February 2020 and we settled in Fuda central, one of the villages in Pakele sub-county. Later that year I became pregnant of my first child. I was so scared because I literally did not have any knowledge concerning motherhood. Being in a new district, with a different culture and language, I was really up for a ride.

Little Jabez‘s healthy life – A result of Mothers practicing what they learn from Amref Health Africa

In February 2021, Amref came to our village and invited women and youth to form groups that will be part of the project work to engage communities in sustainable healthy living options. The formation of groups was lead by the local council one authorities and I happened to be one of the few lucky ones who joined the group (she chuckled). The group consisted of 20 members (09male and 11emale). We were enrolled for a training on health and nutrition.

Breast Milk – Best Milk

Sharon breast feeding little Jabez
Sharon breast feeding little Jabez

During that training, we received practical knowledge on exclusive breast feeding. I was five months pregnant at the time and given my background, I was very attentive because I knew I really needed this information to enable me take care of my baby once it was born.. . The facilitator practically demonstrating to us about how to position and attach the baby on the breast, how to breastfeed, how to feed during lactation. I literally grasped everything. Later on when I gave birth to my baby. I had practical knowledge on how to breastfeed him. I did not encounter any challenges thereafter because I had prior knowledge. Because of that knowledge, I have been able to breastfeed my baby exclusively for four months now and you can see he is very healthy, she exclaimed proudly with a dazzle in her eyes. I am so happy about my baby. His father named him Alelu Jabez. I want him to study and become a doctor when he grows up.

During the training we also learnt about immunization and family planning. I have been able to promptly take my child for vaccination because I am very much aware of the benefits. The last time I visited the health center was one month ago and my baby was vaccinated, the Nurse told me to go back when the baby makes six months. I was also able to convince my husband based on the knowledge we had received for us to opt for family planning in order to have enough time to fully take care of this baby before we get another baby.

To me this training was timely, I am so grateful to Amref Health Africa in Uganda for this life saving opportunity. I do not know how life would have been for me if I had not received this knowledge. Right now am supporting other women in my village especially my age mates with this knowledge. I am requesting Amref Health Africa