Written by: Marian Roberts
Hamkaseini is a small farming community within the Dosso region in Niger where most of the residents are peasant farmers. “Zarma” is the native language mainly spoken by the people.
Before the year 2013, parents, especially mothers had to commute for 8 kilometers under harsh conditions in order to access health care for their children. Unfortunately, some parents had lost their children to pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhea due to the lack of money and means of transportation to health centres.
In 2013, World Vision introduced the NICe/RAcE project, which uses integrated community case management (iCCM) to train and equip community volunteers to treat children aged 2 months to 5 years who suffer from pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria. This was to enable hard- to-reach communities to have access to basic health services.
Aissa Seyni, a mother of five and a house wife, recalled her unpleasant experience four years ago when her 3 year old son got sick. “My 3 year old son started vomiting and passing stool in the middle of the night, so the next morning I decided to take him to the health center. I got to the road side around 8 am and stood there with my son at my back under this scorching sun for several hours, without any motorcycle or vehicle coming. All this while, my son was growing weaker and would not eat anything. He kept vomiting and all I could do was to continue giving him water and praying a vehicle shows up soon.
It wasn’t until noon before I got a vehicle to the health centre. And to make matters worse, when I arrived at the health center, I had to join a queue till 5pm before my son was attended to. After wards, I had to wait again for several hours before getting a vehicle home without eating the whole day” She recounted.
According to Aissa, the intervention of NICe/RAcE project has been a life-saver to her and other families in the community. She mentioned that having an RCOM within their community to attend to their sick children is such a relief.
She said “Now if my child is sick I go straight to the RCOM who is just two minutes’ walk away from my house and whatever my child is suffering from I get treatment instantly. The RCOM even explains what the ailment of my child is, and further advises me on preventive measures whereas at the health centre, the doctor only asks for symptoms and prescribes medicine for me to go and buy for my son.”
Aissa further inferred that, the project has saved her family from all the struggles she used to encounter in order to access health care. “I do not have to waste much time just to access healthcare for my children anymore. I use the RCOM a lot because whenever any of my children shows any symptoms, I take them to the RCOM who always has time for us and also advises us during follow-up visits. As a family, we are now able to save money because getting a motorcycle or vehicle to take you to the health center is very expensive, costing about 1,500 CFA (US$ 2.40). I thank the funders for bringing this project to our village because it is really taking care of our children and has been of great benefit to parents.” She stated
Featured image: Aissa and one of her sons