Galway Volunteers raise funds for a Nutrition Clinic in Zambia
Immunisation 4 Life is hosting a night at the Dogs at Galway Greyhound Stadium on Saturday 22 September (first race at 8.30pm) in order to raise funds for a Nutrition Clinic in Zambia.
The aim of Immunisation 4 Life is to organise immunisation programmes and child health clinics for under 5s in the poorer countries of the world and to provide teams in emergency and developing situations to support existing charities and NGOs.
The group consists of experienced Public Health Nurses and Doctors with Dr Kevin Connolly (former Consultant Paediatrician, Portiuncula Hospital Ballinasloe) as Medical Director. In addition to Dr. Connolly, founder members include Maura Moran, Public Health Nurse Headford; Carmel Whiriskey, Registered Midwife and Registered General Nurse, Loughrea; Corrine Mannion, Registered Midwife, Galway; Katherine Farrell, Public Health Nurse, Barna; Marilyn Kelly, Asst. Director of Public Health Nursing, Galway; Mary Holian, former Public Health Nurse, Tuam; and Maeve Gacquin, Senior Dietician, Galway Clinic.
In 2011, Immunisation 4 Life created a partnership with a well-established charity in Zambia, called the NERI Clinics, which has a busy Primary Health Care clinic in the Linda Province on the outskirts of the capital Lusaka. The NERI Clinics are managed by two Irish GPs and run by qualified health professionals from Zambia. To date Immunisation 4 Life has undertaken three trips to the NERI Clinics involving 21 volunteers. The average trip lasts for 10 days and the volunteers travel on their own time, taking holidays from work and paying for the trip themselves.
Maura Moran, one of the founder members explains how the Nutrition Clinic in Zambia developed. She says, “In addition to looking at immunisation we are also very interested in providing support to address the problem of malnutrition which isn’t just a case of lack of food but rather lack of appropriate food.
“On one of our early trips to Zambia we surveyed the nutritional status of children under 5 years in the Linda Province and found that 2% were severely malnourished and 17% had moderate malnutrition. This has serious short and long term implications for the health and wellbeing of these children and in order to address the problem we developed a nutritional programme which involved recruiting and training the Community Health Workers to screen for malnutrition and then to assist in running a weekly nutrition and under 5s clinic where moderately malnourished children attend for extra feeding or supplementary feeding. Up to 150 children attend this weekly clinic at any one time where they are monitored for progress until they have achieved ideal weight for height, and maintain it for 4 weeks.
“Without this clinic many of the children with severe malnutrition would be referred to the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka where they would be admitted for at least 8 weeks. A family member, usually the mother has to stay with the child which is disruptive to family life and could compromise the wellbeing of other children at home. And also unfortunately the mortality rates are very high at 30%.
“We are holding a fundraising night at the Dogs on Saturday 22 September from 8.30pm; we hope to raise enough money to pay for the Nutrition Clinic for a year. All the money we raise will go to the Clinic. Tickets cost €15 for adults and children are free. We hope it will be a fun night for a serious cause.”