What Yemen Moms can do to save baby from Cholera.



Photo of Behar Abbasi by Ben Barber (USAID)

Enlisting Yemen Moms to keep children healthy until & after they see a doctor. Photo of Behar Abbasi by Ben Barber (USAID)

by Behar Abbasi from Yemen for Feminine Perspective Magazine

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The RINJ Foundation nurses have been asking families in Yemen to adhere to some specific sanitation, food-preparation, and hygiene procedures, even if no family member is ill, to ensure that families stay healthy. First and foremost say experts working in Syria and Northern Iraq is water purification. Boil, boil, boil your water even if you are using a filtration system, says Sharon Santiago.

The power of women working together.

Mother. Let us harness the power of women working together to save our families. Do you know how to prevent or cope with:

  • Malnourishment
  • Cholera
  • Diarrhea
  • Cold-like Symptoms

We are going to share this information.

There is a lot to be said about the symptoms of malnourishment in infants and small children. The things we see in Yemen are disturbing. In a malnourished baby, symptoms can include:

  • having cold or flu-like symptoms for an abnormally long period of time (past 7 days),
  • always feeling cold,
  • decaying teeth (in older infants and toddlers),
  • dizziness,
  • dry, scaly skin,
  • low energy,
  • higher risk of getting sick and taking longer to heal,
  • lack of appetite or interest in food or drink,
  • longer healing time for bruises, cuts and scratches,
  • loss of fat, muscle mass, and body tissue,
  • poor immune function (which can harm baby’s ability to fight off infections),
  • swollen and bleeding gums,
  • tiredness and irritability.

If this is familiar, mom, your baby needs medical help.

Seek help in your community. You may already have a health care provider. Go. If not try your nearest hospital. Find a doctor or nurse carer. Watch for Aid Stations and mobile clinics. Spread the word in your community that you need help for your infant. In the meantime there is much you can do yourself.

Here are some tips that you can use to fight:

malnourishment, cholera and the cold-like Symptoms.

  • Try going to your children’s school and ask for “school meals” for your preschoolers. Many schools in Yemen now have this program. This may take a day or two while the numbers are raised for the next delivery.
  • Boil what water you have.
  • Wash fruit and vegetables carefully.
  • Next, peel all fruits and vegetables.
  • Cook all food thoroughly and eat hot.
  • Do not eat cold rice. Re-boil vigorously with clean water.
  • Stew fruits and vegetables at a boiling point for at least three minutes.
  • The World Food Program is reminding everyone that malnourished infants and children have compromised immune systems and are at least 3x more likely to die if they contract cholera which is sweeping across the country. You can avoid this disease by observing these sanitation, hygiene and food preparation methods.
  • This means burying your human waste away from water.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water. Make certain that you soap your hands and work the soap to a lather between your fingers and on the front and backs of your hands for at least thirty seconds each hand or more before rinsing.
  • For malnourished babies and children, small sips of CLEAN water mixed with glucose or corn syrup should be given in regular intervals. Give baby as much as she will take but be careful not to allow gorging which can cause another medical problem. Fruit juices can also be given. Ideally fresh fruit, peeled, boiled to a liquid and even pulp if the baby can swallow. Allow to cool and serve.
  • Get malnourished infants and children to medical professionals as soon as possible.

My Child Contracted Cholera Regardless of Good Hygiene

Most patients can be saved if the proper steps are taken. Cholera usually presents with little more than diarrhea at first. Diarrhea itself can kill. The killer is rapid dehydration.

Traditional treatment of cholera is tried and true. It’s not the only method but it is a sure thing.

  1. Rehydration (Immediately urgent and immediately effective. This is a life saver.) with Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) and clean water. If you do not have ORS, make your own homemade-ors or obtain ORS powder.
  2. Anti-biotics that are doctor-prescribed. Important: take all the medicine you are prescribed as per schedule prescribed.
  3. Zinc supplements enhance and shorten the treatment duration.

Click here  here for a listing of instructional, pictorial posters for general community use in fighting Cholera.

 

Click to EnlargeMaking Ors at home Click to enlarge
Rehydration routine and how to do it. Source: The RINJ Foundation, US Center for Disease Control and the Rehydration Project.

 

How to use  a saline solution to relieve baby’s stuffy nose.

  1. It seems that every baby who suffers from undernourishment also contracts one of at least 200 viruses that cause cold-like symptoms.
  2. The noise that baby makes trying to breathe through a stuffy nose is worrisome for some mothers to hear when there is no doctor or hospital to visit. It can also indicate worse trouble.
  3. Wash your hands with soap and clean water, thoroughly.
  4. Make certain baby is properly hydrated. Try the baby on breast milk or sips of water. If the baby takes water, let her have what she will take. Do this repeatedly through the day. Do not allow baby to dehydrate. If baby is not taking food or breast milk, the latter being preferred follow instructions for malnourishment.
  5. Keep baby away from all irritants like smoke and fragrances, chemical smells of things like cleaners and so on. These are not the only irritants.
  6. Keep baby warm. Check skin temperatures of her extremities (arms and legs) and see check baby does not feel cold to your wrist’s touch.
  7. If baby’s breathing is noisy and difficult through her nose, some action is needed to improve eating, sleeping and play. That’s normally everything that baby does.
  8. At all times keep baby upright or when sleeping, elevated at a reasonably high angle that helps breathing.
  9. Prepare to irrigate baby’s nose.
  10. Boil a cup and a half of water.
  11. Sterilize a clean teaspoon by pouring half a cup of boiling water on the teaspoon in a cup.
  12. Pour out that water from the cup and remove the spoon which will air dry quickly at 100 deg. C.
  13. Once air dry (seconds) use the spoon to measure one quarter teaspoon of salt which means the front half of the teaspoon will have a level layer of salt. Add the spoon and the salt to the full cup of boiled water while stirring for thirty seconds or more.
  14. Allow the spoon and saline solution to sit until reaching room temperature.
  15. Prepare some soft tissue to wipe the baby’s nose.
  16. If you have an infant/child nasal bulb, or nasal aspirator, have that ready (see below for examples). If you don’t that’s fine. Continue.
  17. If you have a sterile nose dropper you can use that but otherwise you will use the teaspoon to administer the drops.
  18. Lay baby down on a rolled towel under both shoulder blades allowing her head to tilt backwards on the rolled towel.
  19. You are going to add 3 drops of your saline solution from your sterile teaspoon to each of the baby’s nostrils.
  20. You may require assistance in fact that would be best.
  21. By this time your saline solution should be cool. To avoid a spill keep it a distance from the baby who may make a fuss.
  22. You can practice over the cup first. The technique with a spoon is to hold it level about three cm above baby’s tilted nose over the left nostril first (if you are right handed) and slightly tip the spoon gently forward until a couple of drops fall into the nostril.
  23. With one hand, while your assistant gently holds baby’s hands away from her face, gently press upward the tip of her little nose to help the flow-through.
  24. In the left and then the right add two drops of saline. Then repeat one or two drops more.
  25. If you make a mistake it is not a catastrophe, don’t worry. Wipe up, calm baby, and start over.
  26. Baby may sputter and sneeze out runny and hard mucus. That’s the plan.
  27. Infants have tiny nasal passages. If the baby’s breathing is noisy and there is no mucus, this process will sooth the inflamed passages. If the baby has mucus-filled nasal passages this will help irrigate and cleanse.
  28. If you have a nasal bulb to withdraw the solution and mucus from the baby’s nose have it ready.
  29. After a few seconds of sputtering and complaining the baby can be sat upright, and then use your nasal bulb or in the alternative, gently tilt the baby forward and wipe the nostrils of any hard mucus and saline that come sputtering out.
  30. Gently pat the baby’s back. Observe baby’s breathing.
  31. You may need to repeat this process after baby calms down. Intervals of five to ten minutes are suitable although you should only use a nasal rubber bulb or aspirator two or three times in a day and not in quick succession.
  32. And mom, this procedure will work on you and your other family members as well.
  33. Please use only re-sterilized utensils for each child.

Item 1, recent technology, filtered aspirator using mother’s mouth suction.
Item 2, also recent technology, electric baby nasal aspirator.
Item 3, Bulb Nasal Succer of the type often included in hospital baby welcoming packages.

Photo credits: These illustrations and products are from Medicale Expo
They are widely available from numerous suppliers, however.

 


Caveats

Terms of use of this paper:
The homecare information herein is intended to augment, not substitute for the expertise and judgment of each reader’s attending local healthcare professional. The information is not intended to cover all possible illnesses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse effects, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular drug or procedure is safe, the only method, appropriate or effective.