In the article “WASH Through Sport for Health“, we demonstrated how Sports can be used for Public Health and International Development issues, not only to raise awareness, but also by being a practical platform through which the issues can be tackled head-on. One critical health and development intervention that can easily and conveniently be practiced through Sports, is the UNICEF recommended Child Clinic or Kids Clinic.
The GOBI-FFF Program of the United Nations International Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF) is a 7-pronged packaging of the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s strategies for the healthy development of the children of the world. The letters stand for:
- Growth monitoring
- Oral rehydration
- Female education
- Fertility control (Family spacing)
- Food supplements
The Sport for Health and Sport for International Development organisation, KGC as introduced in the above article, incorporated the children clinic or baby clinics into its Sports activities, by routinely practicing the first and last letters in GOBI-FFF, Growth monitoring and Food supplementation. But of course there is no way we could in the process of doing this, not be able to provide some health education to the children’s mothers, to equip them to look after their families.
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LINKS TO CHILD CLINIC EQUIPMENT
These are some of the materials and supplies that KGC uses in its Sports road shows to deliver children clinic services as described in the coming paragraphs:
WHY CHOOSE GROWTH MONITORING AND FOOD SUPPLEMENTATION?
These two arms of GOBI-FFF were chosen for a number of reasons:
1. growth stunting is a very prevalent condition in the Developing World. It not only results from insufficient food, but also from lack of knowledge and skills on how to make good and safe use of available food. But
2. growth stunting also results from infections and infestations, such as respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, and intestinal worms / parasites. These are very prevalent in the Developing World, and their sources are everywhere in the environment.
3. if children do not grow well, their brains and indeed their nervous systems do not develop adequately. This leads to poor academic, vocational and professional performance throughout life. The cost to the economy of their countries and of the world is unthinkable. That is why growth stunting is among the priorities of the World Bank and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
4. due to both nutritional challenges and parasitic infestations, there is a lot of anaemia (weak blood because of a shortage of haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying red pigment). Anaemia causes physical and mental weakness, and is not infrequently fatal.
The “Qacha’s Nek” district of Lesotho, Southern Africa, where KGC is based, was found in internationally funded studies to be among the 3 worst affected of Lesotho’s 10 districts, in terms of both growth stunting and anaemia. This is a dangerous double edged sword that at least in part explains the poor Educational performance of the district in this new millennium.
The well described nutritional conditions, Marasmus and Kwashiorkor, are still scourges in the mountainous areas of Lesotho such as “Qacha’s Nek”.
The two arms of GOBI-FFF are doable through Sport for Health and Sport for Development. And the other arms are rather difficult to tackle and in any case fall within the scope of work of Government ministries and International institutions.
HOW EXACTLY DOES KGC INCORPORATE THE CHILDREN CLINIC INTO SPORTS?
(! Buying the supplies needed for a project of this nature in bulk, especially at wholesale prices where possible, is advisable for long-term sustainability !)
* Food Supplementation *
This is done throughout KGC games. All children 12 years and under, get fortified snacks to supplement their intake of protein, vitamins, minerals and trace elements. These get handed out at the end of matches during the Health Talks and Announcements. This helps to keep the children and their caregivers glued to the health-promoting sports activities.
We take advantage of the feeding sessions, to pass WASH (WAter, Sanitation & Hygiene) Education, as the feeders and children have to use whatever cleansing methods are available (usually alcohol-based sanitisers as they are portable and also need introduction to communities) to clean hands.
Vitamin A (at a high dose of 200000IU) is one very important Healthcare intervention that has been promoted since the 1990s. It strengthens children’s bodies against e.g. measles, gastrointestinal and respiratory infections, and it is vital for the eyes. The Vit A is available in convenient gelatinous capsules which dissolve in children’s mouths. When and where Vitamin A programs of Government are not coping, KGC does the Vitamin A provision for children up to the age of 5, especially for those who don’t have clear or up-to-date Vitamin A records. This is an example of “forming partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs”.
Multivitamin multimineral ± probiotic supplements can also be found in chewable tablets or gummies, which are easy to carry to sporting venues, and to dispense. We don’t use gummies though, because of their sugar content. (Dental caries is another Public Health problem that needs to be addressed aggressively in the Developing World.)
* Growth Monitoring *
Because this particular activity is a bit more time intensive and requires a Health trained person to be present, we reserve this for select games in the latter stages of tournaments. However, if there are areas of the district that have never been visited, an exception is sometimes made to include them in earlier stages of our Sport roadshows.
Children who are found to be significantly of abnormal weight, being underweight (common) or overweight (not common, but increasing) are then recommended for follow up at health institutions.
To eradicate intestinal worms and other parasites which cause growth stunting, nutritional deficiencies and other health problems, children at these stages of tournaments get dewormed. The deworming program is easily done with Chewable Albendazole tablets, which are given as a once-off (stàt) dose of 400mg.
HOW HAS THE CHILDREN CLINIC GONE FOR KGC?
The Kids Clinic has been a very valuable, exciting and fulfilling component of the games and the Sport for Health and Sport for International Development project. It adds a lot of happiness to the events, and takes services to communities which are often unable to access such services, and on top of this, providing the services in a relaxed atmosphere.
The Child Clinic through Sports, enables a thorough and deeper understanding of the problems that exist at the community level.
Challenges to the work, can be addressed as suggested above. By using quality, manageable but affordable equipments and supplies, this type of work can be done to cover wide areas including inaccessible ones, and can be done sustainably.
Children under the age of 18 constitute half of the population in Africa and other parts of the Developing World. They face a myriad of problems which, if not addressed aggressively, make for a gloomy outlook in their countries.
Even in the Developed World, children, being the future of any community or nation, still need more partnerships to be formed between various sectors including Sports, Education, Healthcare and Business, in order to ensure the brightest future possible, and to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
Because Sport and Kids go so well together, using Sports to deliver health and wellness services to children in their communities through the Kids Clinic, is strongly advised.