“Each container a reason to celebrate”

by Simone Winneg/SRA,  2010/11/08

Simone Winneg is active as a coordinator for humedica in the West African state of Niger. At the humedica hospital in Kollo, not far from Niamey, the capital of Niger, she fights undernutrition in the country and enhances better access to medical care for the population together with a team consisting of German and local assistants. In her latest report Simone Winneg tells about the arrival of a long-awaited container with relief goods that has been sent by humedica and about the work done in the framework of the nutrition programme in Kollo.

“We have been waiting for the arrival of the container for three long months. This container will not only supply the humedica hospital in Kollo; it also contains urgently needed supplies for the nutrition project humedica is running in Niger thanks to the generous support of the German Federal Foreign Office.

A container with tons of urgently needed relief goods. Everyone at the humedica hospital in Kollo has been awaiting its arrival. Photo: humedica/Anna Zwick

Drugs, equipment, but above all special additional food for the severely and moderately undernourished have been sent from Germany. Although this is not the first time such a shipment arrives in Kollo, still everyone is tense, curious and unbelievably happy each time we receive a new container. The humedica team and numerous local assistants immediately start unloading the total of 21 tons of relief goods.

Now, the newly constructed warehouse that could be built in spring 2010 thanks to the company Alpensolar proves its value in more than one way: on the one hand large supplies of relief goods can be stored under appropriate conditions. As a consequence, we can create an effective inventory.

Our little patients’ metabolism is completely off balance and they must at first get accustomed to food once more. Therefore, an interruption of supplies is a disaster for us. Fortunately, the container arrived just in time in order for us to be able to provide our patients with the weekly distribution of additional food.

Joy about the arrival of the container is so immense that nobody minds the hard work of unloading it. Local and German assistants join forces. Photo: humedica/Anna Zwick

For us, each arrival of a container is a reason to celebrate. This container, however, has been awaited particularly urgently, since it contains vital supplies of additional food for Kollo. An interruption of their diet during treatment is very risky in particular for severely undernourished children in our care.

In cooperation with the World Food Programme of the United Nations and the German Federal Foreign Office, humedica distributes additional food to undernourished children, pregnant women or nursing mothers on a weekly basis. The more than 100 women who attend the distributions regularly do not only receive food packages. Above all they receive important information about the reasons for undernutrition and the correct preparation of the additional food they are given.

In the framework of these health education measures, specially trained Nigerien nurses furthermore explain basic principles of hygiene, cleanliness and food preparation in general to the mothers.

Imparting information about matters of health and nutrition is an essential contribution to fighting diseases and undernutrition. Photo: humedica/Simone Winneg

Despite all the problems that can arise when implementing programmes such as this, our continuous work and our care for mothers with children has achieved overwhelming results during the last few months: more than 2,400 women and children could already benefit from the provision with additional food. More than 500 children and women were no longer suffering from undernutrition after only a few months of taking part in the nutrition programme.

Of course, treatment is substantially more difficult with severely undernourished children. However, thanks to the high-calorie additional food, the nutrition situation of most children soon returns to normal even in those cases. Then, they can change their eating habits to local food and as a consequence they need no longer come to the hospital that frequently.

Apart from the nutrition programme, also every-day life at the hospital benefits from the arrival of the container. Since the inauguration of the new in-patient wing, more than 150 patients have already been treated – most of them suffering from severe malaria. Therefore, also the hospital’s in- and out-patients will benefit from this supply with medical relief goods.

Nurse Anna Zwick from the Allgäu (Germany) has recently started to work at the humedica hospital in Kollo. Photo: humedica/Simone Winneg

Day by day, our doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, midwives, cleaning staff, guardians and drivers work for the well-being of the population of Kollo. The work of the Nigerien hospital team is also supported actively by honorary assistants from Germany:

Recently, nurse Anna Zwick from the Allgäu (Germany) and paediatrician Dr Arnold Breuer have started to work in Niger. Dr Breuer had already worked in Niger before, in the framework of the meningitis vaccination campaign in 2009. For a period of four weeks, they will work hand in hand with the local hospital staff, treat and care for patients and assist with the distributions.

This is already the second mission in Niger for paediatrician Dr Arnold Breuer. Photo: humedica/Simone Winneg

Every single day we try to give the people hope and health in a situation that has become ever more difficult due to the famine. To do this, we need your support – not only today, but also in future.

Therefore we would like to ask you to continue supporting this important work done by humedica in Kollo”.

Dear friends and sponsors, also the people in Niger depend on our help. Please continue supporting our important work in Kollo by means of a targeted donation:
      humedica e. V.
      Donation reference "Hospital Niger"
      Account 47 47
      Bank code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

Please also donate online for the humedica hospital in Niger or contribute to financing our projects by means of sending a text message: simply send DOC to the abbreviated dialling +49 8 11 90 and support us with a one-time donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica project work. Thank you very much.

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