UG 18 - TO THE LITTLEST: SUPPORT FOR THE ARUA DISPENSARY
Ediofe is located about 2 km west of the city of Arua towards the border between Congo and Uganda. The area is relatively hilly and rich in vegetation. It presents 2 seasons, dry season from December to March and rainy season from April to November, with the highest density of rainfall in August and September. It is a densely populated area with several ethnic and religious groups living harmoniously. People are poor and depend mainly on agriculture and small businesses for both income and food.
Ediofe’s health center (H/C) not far from Arua Cathedral, is very active and mainly offers assistance to women and children. It is a private, non-profit Catholic health unit, founded in 1962 and run by the Comboni Missionary Sisters; owned by the Diocese of Arua and under the aegis of the Catholic Medical Office of Uganda.
The district of Arua, like all Northern Uganda, has a high incidence of HIV/AIDS. This ensures that special care is taken towards pregnant women to avoid or minimize maternal-infant transmission during childbirth. These women with their children are then followed in the first months after childbirth and then in the phase of weaning which in these cases is always early as indicated by the WHO guidelines. In fact, to avoid contracting the disease, this type of newborns can not be breastfed beyond the third month of life.
Although Arua is now a city, not all families can afford to face the cost of milk powder for these children, so the poorest wean the chicks wrong or dilute the milk too much to make it last longer. This is why we welcome a large number of children suffering from primary or secondary malnutrition due to illness or other social problems. In the attempt to prevent children from reaching this stage of malnutrition, we see the need to help mothers (especially the most disadvantaged) and to follow malnourished and orphaned children (about 200) in the process of weaning with powdered milk, sugar, rice, oil and soy. Periodically, these children are referred to the medical staff for a clinical check and for medical treatment in case of need.
These medical treatments are obviously extended also to the mothers of these children in case they need it when they accompany their children to the health center. Children of HIV-positive mothers are cared for up to a year, malnourished and orphaned, up to three years before considering them as children with good prospects of well-integrated growth. Sometimes these children may become orphans before they reach the age of three because of AIDS. In these cases we try to continue to support the grandmothers who take care of them, with food and soap.
- Giving children born to HIV positive mothers the chance to grow up healthy.
- Reduce stigma and discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients.
- Empower mothers and grandmothers to follow children in their growth with a particular attention to the need for affection and care of their children.
Direct: 185 Malnourished children in need of medical care
Indirect: Mothers and grandmothers of children and families in general
Referent sister for the project: Sr Laurence Limio