In Bangladesh, 67% of deaths among children under 5 come from drowning. Women and Children First is testing the use of community health groups to address the rates of preventable childhood injuries, also including electrocution and burns, in rural communities.
Annemijn Sondaal, Programmes Manager, explains, “Too many young, vulnerable children are suffering from unintentional and accidental injuries, that often tragically end in death.
“We have been interviewing dozens of parents, health care providers and community stakeholders in villages of Boalmari Upazila, Faridpur. This is to understand more about the common childhood injuries that the community face and the barriers that prevent them from addressing the problems.
“This can be down to a lack of awareness about what causes the injuries. Sometimes there’s a perception that they are inevitable, so nothing can be done to prevent them.
“Often there is a reliance on the mother to do all the childcare and look after the home, overloading and overburdening them, increasing the risks for young children.
“Many parents and people do not know what to do if their child is burnt during cooking. They don’t know what to do when a child is drowning, or how to revive them when they manage to get them out of the water. Nor what treatment to seek depending on the seriousness of the injury.
“It is a fear that many parents know all too well, that sheer, overwhelming sense of panic when something bad happens to their child. Giving parents important information and tools to help can support them and their child in times of extreme danger and distress.
“There are concerns that seeking medical attention will be prohibitively expensive. Thus traditional healers are also sought out for serious injuries such as broken bones where healing methods include massaging broken bones.
“We often take for granted in the UK that the NHS and capped prescription prices will help medical issues.
“After all the interviews, the biggest problems the communities identified affecting children in the area are drowning, road traffic accidents, burns and electrocution.
“Women and Children First, along with our partners BADAS-PCP and UCL, is testing the adapted community health group approach for unintentional childhood injuries. This is to see if groups can bring communities together to raise awareness of these issues and start to work collectively to prevent, manage and encourage changing behaviours.
“Part of this work is to understand not only if solutions to problems are identified, but if the groups are feasible in the long-term and accepted by the communities. We want to encourage people to be motivated to keep attending the groups.
“It is important to work with communities, be sympathetic toward existing traditional practices, and ensure this is meeting the needs that they have.
This work includes:
– Adapting and tailoring our materials, including developing new picture cards to talk about problems and possible solutions
– Helping children understand how they can react, keeping them calm, dispelling fears
– Supporting people to take the appropriate action when and where (e.g., cuts and grazes can be treated at home with ointment)
– Developing health messaging
– Creating checklists for health workers to use during home visits, helping families assess what’s safe and what’s dangerous (e.g., covering plug sockets)
“The timeline for this is to trial the groups from November 2021 through to March 2022. Afterwards we will evaluate the groups through further interviews and focus groups, to determine whether the groups should be trialled on a larger scale.”
Women and Children First will provide further updates as the project is finished and evaluate the groups effectiveness.
Pioneering work such as these groups are only possible thanks to the kind support of our donors and funders. You can help us further our positive impacts and help more children to survive and thrive at www.womenandchildrenfirst.org.uk/donate
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