Nigeria Health Program Updates
by Scott Pegg
Bebor Model Nursery & Primary School, one of Timmy’s international partners, has schools in the communities of Bane, Bodo and Bori in Rivers State, Nigeria. Two years ago, Bebor implemented a new health initiative aimed at 100 of the poorest and most vulnerable children at its school in Bodo. In the following blog, Scott Pegg shares updates from the program’s second operating year.
I wanted to take this opportunity to share some news about Bebor’s pilot health program in Bodo. This was our second year funding the health program. Financially, we sent a total of $7,500 to support the health program during the 2013-14 academic year. This contribution was divided equally between Bebor donors and direct support from Timmy Global Health.
Our health program started by focusing on 100 of the poorest and most vulnerable children (with an age range of 3-11) at our school in Bodo. These children received measles and polio immunizations, Vitamin A supplements, deworming treatment, medical exams and had their blood drawn to test for various ailments and diseases. Below, one of the Bebor students is having his blood drawn for diagnostic testing.
The best news from the health program by far is that we had no cases of HIV+ in students or teachers, and no cases of sickle cell anemia this year. In the first year of our health program, we found 3 out of 100 students to be HIV+ and 2 out of 15 teachers to be HIV+. In the first year of the health program, we also had 2 cases of sickle cell anemia (SS in the medical jargon). 84 out of 100 students and 6 of 7 teachers neither had sickle cell anemia nor were carriers of the disease (AA), while 16 students and 1 teacher did not have the disease but were carriers of it (AS).
Through simple blood tests, we also checked hemoglobin levels for signs of anemia. This year, 82 out of 100 students had mild to moderate anemia and the remaining 18 students had normal hemoglobin levels. These figures are broadly comparable to last year. By way of comparison, 20% of all US children will have mild to moderate anemia at some point before they are 18, compared to the 82% of students in our test group.
One of our most exciting developments this year was the expansion of the deworming treatment to the entire population of students at our school in Bodo—not just to the 100 children enrolled in the pilot health program. According to the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in the Department of Economics at MIT, “Funding mass, school-based deworming programs in areas of high worm load is among the most cost effective things any government, agency, or donor can do with their money.” Given our very limited resources, I’m quite happy that we could expand the deworming treatment this year to all of our students in Bodo. The photo above shows a group of our students waiting to get this treatment and the photo below shows some receiving it.
Finally, we greatly expanded the public health education component of our program. Dr. Nubari Nabie, our health program director, focused on training both the school’s teachers and parents to address some common health problems. Dr. Nabie’s list of topics is very revealing of the environment we work in. For the teacher training, Dr. Nabie focused on what he termed “common cases” such as: snake bite, bee sting, bleeding, kerosene poisoning, asthma, eye injuries and burns. He focused his educational efforts with the parents on personal, family and environmental hygiene, sexual assault, kerosene burns, and poisoning.
The final photograph below shows Dr. Nabie speaking with students and parents. We plan to continue and expand this work next year in partnership with the Center for the Environment, Human Rights and Development’s Child Rights Program. I hope this gives you a better sense of the environment we work in, and I also hope it gives you some sense of how we are addressing healthcare challenges in that environment. Thank you for taking the time to learn about Bebor and the work that we do in the rural Niger Delta. It is greatly appreciated! Stay tuned for more updates on our work as we continue to expand healthcare programs to more students in the coming year.