Case Study: Timor Leste
Ismael is a three year old boy from Timor Leste who until recently suffered from malnutrition. Upon diagnosis Ismael was sent to AFAP partner HIAM Health’s Malnutrition Rehabilitation and Education Centre to receive treatment. The centre not only rehabilitated Ismael but also provided his family, the Mendoncas, with the means to make nutritious meals a part of their everyday life.
Upon arrival at the rehabilitation centre Ismael weighed 10.4kg and had a mid-upper arm circumference of 12.8cm. Ismael was classified as suffering from mild to moderate malnutrition. During his 18 day stay at the rehabilitation centre Ismael received treatment for malnutrition and was discharged with both an increased weight and arm circumference. The rehabilitation centre also provided Ismael’s parents with education and training on health practices such as how to have a balanced diet and how to grow a vegetable garden to supplement their diet.
However, AFAP and HIAM Health’s commitment to the Mendonca family didn’t end when Ismael left the clinic. The Mendonca family was aided in building a family kitchen garden close to their home. Along with Ismael’s family, staff built a seedling hut, compost bins, plant beds and a cement water tank. The family now has access to a variety of nutritious vegetables grown close to their home including eggplant, cabbages, tomatoes and pakchoi. The assistance provided has improved not only the family’s quality of life today, but also provided good prospects for the health of their children into the future.
Good health is essential to sustainable development. Through our work AFAP aims to improve health outcomes for poor and vulnerable communities by delivering programs that improve access to clean water and sanitation, provide preventative health care and increase treatment/education on HIV and AIDS. In Africa we support programs in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Asia and the Pacific we work in Bangladesh, Timor Leste and Vietnam.
Africa has a focus on maternal and child health and nutrition including equal access to health services for extremely vulnerable communities. Working in collaboration with the government and other Community Based Organisations (CBO) AFAP is helping to facilitate safer birthing practices by training traditional birth attendants and constructing maternal waiting rooms. Breast-feeding campaigns are conducted to encourage exclusive and longer breastfeeding for new and expectant mothers. Much needed immunisations are also being provided in remote areas through advocacy and joint collaborations with local governments and with the support of health brigades. Through this type of support, vaccinations of Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus were provided to nineteen thousand five hundred and thirty five children in Mozambique in the last year alone.
AFAP continues to advocate for the greater involvement of people living with HIV across all aspects of their local communities and to mainstream and integrate HIV components into all programs. Programs in Africa have been successful in involving People Living with HIV (PLHIV) by collaborating with local PLHIV networks through different business ventures such as home gardens and animal husbandry- eliminating stigma and discrimination within the local communities for those living with HIV.
In Vietnam, we continue to work with partner agencies in the Avian and Pandemic Influenza Initiative (APII) funded by USAID to enhance the surveillance of these and similar emerging diseases at the local level and raise awareness among national policy makers. AFAP Vietnam is also training local authorities in veterinary training activities to increase the sustainability of the program. The project has successfully expanded operations to districts that were not part of the initial project using staff trained in the last fiscal year. The project has been rolled out to ten provinces.
In Timor Leste, our work has been focused on reducing the effects of malnutrition through rehabilitation of infants and children in particular, and educating caregivers in preventative strategies. HIAM Health, our partner in Timor Leste utilises a combination of approaches, such as training on improvement of diet and health for poor families. This includes such measures as horticultural education, technical support visits continuing with ongoing support through post-rehabilitation and socialisation visits for community consultation (to determine level of motivation and commitment to establish and maintain a home-kitchen garden).
AFAP believes that in order to achieve positive health outcomes, various interventions need to be utilised. These include care for newborns and their mothers, feeding programs for infants and young children, programs on immunisations, prevention and management of diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria and HIV/AIDS, all of which are integral part of our work globally. However, AFAP also recognises that for health outcomes to be sustainable by poor and vulnerable people, there needs to be a concerted effort to work in partnership with the governments of the countries we work with. Therefore, strengthening governance structures and empowering the vulnerable communities themselves, underpins all of AFAP’s health work, in order to achieve equitable and sustainable access to health services for all.