Jaundice is a dangerous disease especially affecting new-born babies less than two weeks old. Without treatment jaundice can cause brain damage leading to permanent disability or even death. Detection can be extremely difficult due to lack of awareness and because dark skin masks the tell-tale skin changes which are otherwise the clearest symptom. However, if detected early, jaundice is easily curable with simple medical intervention.
The HEINEKEN Africa Foundation provided support to the Anu Dosekun Healthcare Foundation (ADHF) in Nigeria for the Jaundice in Babies Awareness campaign. The goal of this project was to increase awareness not only among pregnant women and young mothers but also to train traditional birth attendants (TBA’s) and nurses. Another goal of the project was to offer free treatment to babies affected by jaundice.
The Foundation provided the ladies of Anu Dosekun with a mobile clinic to go on outreaches to primary health clinics and church maternity centres. They informed mothers, TBA’s and nurses how to detect jaundice. During these outreaches they also screened new-born babies and if necessary referred them to one of the treatment centres for free treatment. The HEINEKEN Africa Foundation provided UV lighted cots to 6 different centres to treat babies with mild jaundice. Severe cases were referred to district hospitals.
In the course of a year there were 129 nurses and TBA’s trained. Over 1,500 babies were screened out of which 29 babies were treated for mild jaundice and 10 babies with severe jaundice were referred.
One of the challenges during this project was to make sure that mothers who get referred to one of the treatment centres also take their babies there to receive the free treatment. ADHF will take that into account in their future projects.