Birth to five - Helping them to survive!
The 0-5's are the most fragile and vulnerable.
The majority of children who die from preventable causes in India are under 5 years of age and so this is a crucial age group to target when trying to tackle child poverty and child health.
When we head out into the community, bringing health care straight to where marginalised people groups are living, we are always on the look out for the little ones!
"We offer free top to toe baby checks for all the new born babies, a check up many have never had due to being born at home with no access to a health professional."
Through our early baby checks we screen and pick up many babies born with congential problems, especially cardiac, neurological and orthopaedic problems and we can quickly get the newborns assessed and referred for the specialist surgery they need.
The communities we work amongst are often unable to access specialist care so our team support the family throughout the process. We provide the transport for the long journey to the hospital, sit with the family in the hospital consultation, pay for the operations and medicines needed and provide post-operative care back at our base until the baby is fully recovered.
We often discover little ones who have had a difficult antenatal and neonatal period and who are now showing signs of having some significant disability. These babies are at risk of being neglected by the families, and our team are able to intervene early, supporting and encouraging the family as we help them to take care of their children.
We are always learning along this journey in India, and after running a rural paediatric clinic for a couple of years we realised that many of our little patients attending the children's clinic were above the age of 5 years... many arriving sick but alone. Where were the babies and young children?
In poverty stricken families, the parent/carer will most likely to be found working 15 hours days, 7 days a week, in back breaking labour work, trying to earn enough money to feed their hungry family.
"The very young babies and children, out of necessity, were being left alone in the house or mud hut - leaving them vulnerable to dehydration & malnutrition and illnesses such as malaria. Too small to access health care themselves, they would succumb quickly in the tropical climate and die within hours."
This was the start of the our vision for our local community EPIC centres - a safe, child friendly environment for the 0-5's to attend each day whilst their parents are at work. As well as getting good nutrition throughout the day, and a wonderful play environment, our EPIC staff are trained to spot unwell children quickly and can promptly refer to our clinic team who can start rapid treatment. We are finding that our EPIC centres are becoming life saving to the youngest and most vulnerable.