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Nutrition is all about consciously asking ourselves: what am I supposed to eat that tastes good, satisfies my hunger and keeps my body healthy? What goes in our plate is important, but how we eat is equally important. Do we wash our hands with soap before cooking, eating and after going to the loo? Do we use clean water for cooking and drinking? If not then, what steps we need to take to ensure our community’s growth. Proper hand washing with soap and water is the worlds most cost-efficient and effective preventative health measure. Washing hands with soap saves more lives than any other medical intervention.
Nutrition and hygiene camp activities
Keeping in view the health and economic challenges of Tumair, Bilal Foundation in partnership with Wilson’s Pharmaceuticals organized a free hygiene and nutrition camp at Azm-e-nau girl’s high school on 29th Sep, 2018 from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm.
During the camp, Consultant dietician, Ms. Arooba introduced local families (mostly mothers) to healthy nutritional principles, based on USDA’s MY plate nutrition education and guidance system. Consultant Pediatrician, Dr. Tahir talked about everyday hygiene practices that can be easily adopted such as washing our hands with soap every time we cook food or after going to the loo. He also talked about different ways to purify water such as boiling or with the help of tablets (aqua tab). Just as it is important to keep ourselves clean, keeping our homes clean is also needed to keep ourselves and our children healthy.
A previous survey conducted at Azm-e-Nau school by Bilal foundation appointed nurse revealed lack of awareness about the relationship between nutrition and health.The survey also revealed the widespread prevalence of malnutrition in the Tumair region. Ms. Arooba and Dr Tahir stressed that adequate nutrition promotes capable bodies. By feeding children nutritious foods, teaching them healthy eating habits, and encouraging physical fitness, we help protect their current and future potential.
The impoverished families of Tumair consume inadequate amount of key nutrients (i.e. protein, fruits and dairy) in their meals. Children are frequently suffering from diarrhea and exhibit poor appetite. Therefore, two low-budget sample menus were specifically developed for this occasion and distributed to all visitors. With nutritious food, proper education and care, children’s health can be improved dramatically. To further ensure that the children stay healthy long term, Bilal foundation staff advised caregivers (mostly mothers) to cook locally available, nutrient dense food that includes beans, lentils, vegetables, milk and yogurt in their diet to make up for their nutritional deficiencies.
A brief lecture on bone health was also given by Ms. Sumaira, a guest speaker from Wilson’s pharmaceuticals. She stressed that upon childbirth calcium from mother’s body is transferred to the baby. Soft drinks dramatically decrease the calcium absorption from the stomach into the blood stream. This situation may lead to osteoporosis – a type of disease which makes bones weak. Milk consumption is necessary for optimal growth of children and long term health. A final two minute lecture on kidney health was delivered by Mir Badshah (Lithotripsy Specialist).
Finding real cause brings real solutions
To counter check the finding from previous survey, a new nutritional survey was also conducted at the camp to learn the health status and eating habits of the local families. 130 respondents filled up the survey form. The results show that almost 90% children were malnourished ranging from mild to severe malnourishment. Monthly Income of a typical household of Tumair ranges from 5,000 to 15,000 Rs on average. They also tend to have large families with an average family size of 6 -10 people. A Whopping 78% of families reported that their child gets sick at least once month. Only 22% families use a water purification method (boiling or filter) while the rest believe that tap water is clean. 51% respondents believed that their children have stomach issues. Some other key figures are summarized in the info chart given below:
After lectures and children health survey, milk and seasonal fruits were distributed to all visitors. Free screening tests were offered from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Adults were offered various free health screening tests such as Hemoglobin test, Urine Test, Blood Pressure Check up, Sugar test, and Bone health scan.BMI (Body mass index), hemoglobin test were only offered to children up to the age of 12. Almost 25 children were suffering from anemia and stomach issues. They were referred to Dr. Tahir (Consultant Pediatrician) on spot for counseling. Around 50 adults availed the from free blood sugar test, urine test, hemoglobin test and bone health scans. BMI of 121 students of age 4-17 years was assessed. 55 students had Hemoglobin test. This nutrition and hygiene health camp was the first of its kind in the region. More than 150 visitors and students benefited from health awareness lectures, free tests and counseling. Bilal Foundation is committed to utilize the finding from field research and develop effective new programs that fulfill the community’s health needs.
Bilal Foundation : School Dispensary program
Bilal Foundation has set up a free dispensary at Azm-e-Nau girl’s high school to educate growing children and adolescent girls about staying healthy and fighting infections. Various learning activities are planned each month to promote healthy eating habits, good hygiene practices, response during medical emergencies and first aid education. Through monthly health and wellness lecture series and celebrating fruit day’s children are encouraged to not only bring lunch but also include more fruits and veggies in it.