August 2018.

Healthy Mom and Baby Clinic’s (HMBC) Mobile Clinic recently embarked on a community outreach campaign, in partnership with the Department of Health. The campaign aimed to provide care to outlying impoverished communities in Emahleni, Donkerhoek, and Ocean View, to address systemic health issues such as paediatric malnutrition and routine vaccinations.

“We walked street by street, house by house checking vaccines, weights and general condition of all children,” explained Margreet Wibbelink, Clinic Director at Healthy Mom and Baby Clinic.

Close on one hundred young children were treated, vaccinated and weighed during this campaign, which also identified a number of serious cases that have been referred to HMBC, and will be followed up weekly. Amongst these cases severe malnutrition was also identified, which greatly concerns healthcare workers.  These cases were serious enough to require hospitalisation and extended monitoring.

“Malnutrition appears to be a major concern in the poorer townships, where many babies are born underweight, either due to premature birth, substance abuse during pregnancy or merely because mother’s don’t receive the right nutrition during pregnancy,” said Wibbelink.

If a child does not get the right nutrition right from the beginning of his/her life, it is very difficult to catch up, which not only impacts physical growth, but emotional, intellectual and mental development too.  This has further implications when children go to school and even into adult life, if not corrected as soon as possible.

Malnutrition results from a range of systemic issues, namely unemployment and poverty; lack of knowledge; low-value nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding; premature birth and low birth weight; and parental neglect.

The HMBC Mobile Clinic, which is supported through funding from Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, has devised a number of programmes to address these issues head on.  These include adding social welfare resources, weekly parental classes specifically tailored to children’s age categories, providing a safe house for children that are being neglected and require a safe environment; providing nutritional supplementation for pregnant mothers.

“The malnutrition is a serious challenge and as simple as adequate nutrition should be, it is a long uphill battle in poor communities, which is why we support the HMBC in their community outreach programmes,” concluded Hlengiwe Radebe, Economic Development Director for Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.