HealthED Connect Programs

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We'd love to hear from you! Please contact us in any of the following ways:

Email:
Phone: 816.423.4731
Address: 1401 West Truman Road
Independence, MO 64050
United States of America

HealthEd Connect’s global scale:

HealthEd Connect is currently operating in 4 countries: Zambia, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nepal.

The real heroes in each country are the health workers. These are the village women who:

  • get up at 4:30 in the morning to walk by moonlight to carry water from the river or well;
  • gather and carry large bundles of firewood on their heads;
  • pound or grind casava or cornmeal for the family’s staple food;
  • cook one-pot meals over an outdoor smoky fire,
  • spend hours each day planting and hoeing in the fields,
  • wash their clothes in the river and lay them on the banks to dry,
  • These same women are volunteers who walk long distances – some as far as 20-30 kilometers – to bring health education to remote villages.  All with a baby frequently strapped to their backs.

Last year our health workers saw over 25,000 babies and pregnant women.  They weighed the babies, monitored their growth, and taught mothers how to prepare life-saving oral rehydration solutions (ORS) from sugar/salt/water.  Approximately 8,000 babies around the world die everyday from diarrhea.  The health workers are saving many of those little lives by teaching the mothers how to prepare ORS.  Some have also been trained as Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and are providing more than 1,400 clean, safe deliveries in many villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Facts:*

  • 57% of adults in Nepal are literate
  • DRC Ranked 5th in the world for children who die before age 5
  • Life expectancy in Malawi is 55
  • 61% of adults in Zambia are literate
  • 900,000 Zambian children are orphans
*UNICEF, State of the World’s Children 2014, Basic Indicators,

Our work in the suburbs pursues the same mission as our work in the villages: empowering women and children through health and education programs.  Some measure of health services, however, tends to be available through government programs in more populous areas whereas little or no services are available in the villages.  In the suburbs the health workers serve more as a link or connector between the local people and the needed services than as a primary health care providers per se.  In Zambia, for instance, education has been identified by grandmother care-givers as the most urgent need.  Subsequently, local leaders have established community schools with mentoring and encouragement and financial support from HealthEd Connect.  One of the emerging roles of health workers in the suburbs has been to provide home-based palliative care for the desperately ill and dying, many of whom have AIDS.  While visiting in these homes, school-aged children not attending school are identified and enrolled in the community schools.

Zambia — Facing the daunting challenge of caring for 1.2 million orphans in a total population of 12 million, the country of Zambia desperately needs help.  The 30+ community health workers (called Kafwa in Zambia) conduct weekly baby monitoring sessions and mother-education classes in local communities.  They also provide home based care for AIDS patients.  Beginning in 2009, they worked jointly with community members to establish two community schools for orphans and vulnerable children and inspired a third community to establish a school in 2011.  The schools are organized and run by the local community and now enjoy state-of-the-art classroom facilities provided by HealthEd Connect.  The community leaders donate their time to the schools.

HealthEd Connect is deeply committed to evidence-based programs. Local volunteers share in participatory research prior to program implementation as well as in on-going program tracking. One of the most innovative and successful programs, Isubilo, a grief support program for orphans, was well documented both prior to implementation and at culmination. The results from the needs assessment as well as the outcomes are documented in the following refereed journals:

Assessment of Emotional Status of Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Zambia (2013) Kirkpatrick et al.

Perceptions of Orphans' Grief Support Program in Zambia (2014) Kirkpatrick et al.
There are currently over 900 children, ages 5-15 enrolled in the three schools. The children span a large age range but all start in Kindergarten or first grade since this is frequently their first opportunity to attend school.  HealthEd Connect is working jointly with the schools to obtain funding and in-kind donations for classroom structures, pencils, tablets, desks, latrines, and other supplies needed for the program.

All three schools are located in the Copperbelt Region of Zambia. The Kasompe school is in the outskirts of Chingola, the Chipulukusu school is near Ndola, and the Zamtan school is in the outskirts of Kitwe. The school programs are organized and run by community appointed school boards who work closely with community committees and parent-teacher organizations.

The Community Health Workers have been integral to the establishment of the schools because they are trusted and respected by the community, are knowledgeable about the needs of the various community members, and facilitate the enrollment of children in the schools.

Malawi — Malawi is a narrow land-locked country in Sub-Sahara Africa.  Desperately poor, Malawi has struggled with years of famine because of cycles of drought and floods.  Although still very poor, recent years have seen some progress in the overall well-being of the country.

Three groups of community health workers provide first line primary health care in the little towns of Mzimba,  the remote village of Chisemphere, and small communities on the shores of Lake Malawi.  Originally trained as health workers in 1992 with new health workers added in 2011, the volunteer women and one man provide weekly health services to their communities.  The health workers, or Sinkhani, weigh the babies and provide health teaching to the mothers who come to the government-run well-baby clinics.  Annually, the Sinkhani monitor over 25,000 babies.  They also independently provide educational sessions to care-giver grandmothers who want to learn how to feed their grandbabies left orphaned by AIDS.  This initiative has focused on teaching and promoting the use of high-nutrition soy bean porridge for malnourished children.  Even though soybeans are readily available in the country, they are not commonly used by the local people.  The Sinkhani hold demonstration/tasting sessions where they show the grandmothers how to process the soybeans by winnowing the chafe, soaking the beans, rubbing them together to hull the outer shells, drying the beans on mats in the sun, and finally pounding or grinding the beans into flour.  The flour is then stored until the grandmother is ready to fix a porridge made with water and the soybean flour.

In spite of years of compassionate service, the Sinkhani decided they wanted to do even more.  They opened a little bank account in 2006 in Mzimba and assessed themselves 50 Zambian Kwacha per Sinkhani each month.   Within three years they had saved over 8000 Kwacha.  Last reported they had not decided exactly how they would use the money but they did know it would somehow be used to help the orphans.

HealthEd Connect Program Statistics

Zambia
  Schools Supported 3
  CHW volunteers 35
  Children Enrolled 900
Malawi
  Villages served 7
  CHW volunteers 29
  Babies monitored 25,000
  Mothers taught 12,000
Nepal
  Villages served 5
  CHW volunteers 20
  Babies monitored 672
DR Congo
  Villages served 5
  Traditional Birth Attendants 6
  CHW volunteers 14
  Babies Delivered 1500+

The Democratic Republic of Congo — Acknowledged by many as the poorest country in the world, the Democratic Republic of Congo is a mineral-rich, war-torn country that has seen 2.7 million people die as a direct result of its civil war or from the resulting famine and wide-spread disease.1 Originally trained in 1992 as Community Health Workers, or Wasaidizi, local conditions frequently prevented outside communications and support for months at a time.  In spite of the obstacles, the Wasaidizi maintained their role as volunteer health workers providing whatever minimal health services they could.  At one point, the Wasaidizi mobilized the entire community to combat Bilharzia through the building of latrines and the clearing of snail-harboring habitat from the river. They provided leadership to treat a debilitating tropical leg ulcer epidemic that affected hundreds of children throughout the region.  They subsequently became celebrities up and down the river and were even invited to be consultants in neighboring countries because of their successful use of a local traditional remedy of guava leaf antiseptic.  On a visit in 2007 when Sherri Kirkpatrick visited after a lengthy absence she asked them what they considered to be their single biggest need. The unanimous and immediate response was “More training and education.  We want to be sure we’re providing current and correct health practices, especially in delivering babies.”  Subsequent to that conversation, a 6-month Traditional Birth Attendant training program was arranged at the local hospital for 20 women who now safely deliver over 1,400 babies annually.

The Wasaidizi work primarily along the banks of the Luapula River in Kasenga District in the small villages of Chibambo and Kiba.  They are currently spearheading efforts to make mud bricks for the construction of a small one-room clinic where mothers can deliver their babies. They have also noted the resurgence of Bilharzia with the integration of new arrivals into their villages and have requested assistance to address this debilitating and often fatal disease. Even though evidence of the presence of Bilharzia itself has not reemerged, the toilets originally constructed to combat the spread of the disease have deteriorated and need to be replaced.  The Wasaidizi are aware that this is a vital step toward preventing resurgence of Bilharzia.

Nepal — Sandwiched between China and India, the tiny Himalayan country of Nepal is listed as one of the poorest countries in the world.  At the community’s request, Health Worker training was initiated in Kathmandu in 2000 with women walking hours from villages high in the Himalayas to attend the sessions.  Most of the women were Hindu; a few were Christians.  All, however, were resolved to bring better health care to their communities.  At the end of the first training, one of the attendees who had been especially attentive came up to express her appreciation.  She had only 2 years of formal schooling (not unusual since as much as 90% of Nepali women are considered to be illiterate).  It was apparent from her calloused hands that she regularly guided plows in the rice fields behind the water buffalo.  Her simple but profound statement was this:  “I can’t believe that someone with my low-level of education has been entrusted with such valuable information.”  She expressed well the seriousness with which these women take their volunteer role as a health worker.

The community health worker program is now registered with the government as Hope for the Himalaya.  The CHWs, or Soyamsabika, provide first line primary health care in their villages by weighing and monitoring babies and pregnant women and referring those who need more specialized help to the hospital.  The health care is provided in Himalayan villages, many of which are located several hours from the nearest road, as well as in the slums of Kathmandu.  The health workers make the several hour trek to Kathmandu every two months to deliver reports regarding their health activities. Following the 2015 earthquake, the Soyamsabika were key team members who delivered aid to people in remote areas.

1 BBC, October 3, 2009 report

 
Photo Gallery
Chipulukusu School
Zambia, Congo