Life in Zomba: Shine Relief’s area of operation
HIV/AIDS in Zomba The HIV/AIDS pandemic is one of the greatest health problems –across Malawi, it has orphaned more than half a million children already and it is amongst the most significant challenge to development being faced in the Kuntumanji County of the Zomba District – where Shine Relief Trust is currently based. In a country where there is only one doctor for every 100,000 people, the effects of such sparsely distributed healthcare are felt heavier in a district where the estimated HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is considerably higher at 17.8% than the national average estimated at 14%.
Malaria in Zomba Malaria is one of the greatest dangers for children in sub-Saharan Africa, killing one child every minute. Malaria is plaguing the residents of the Zomba District and accounts for one-third of all morbidity cases and for long over a decade, has been the leading cause of outpatient morbidity in the entire district. There’s currently no malaria vaccine. If not treated, malaria can be deadly. Shine provides mosquito nets help to help keep our children and their families safe, standing waters from floods present a greater risk as mosquitoes easily carry the disease.
Healthcare in Zomba Much of the population of Kuntumanji has no access to healthcare facilities as there exists no general District hospital in an area spanning about 2,580km2. Hence children who are fortunate enough to be able to endure a day’s walk to the nearby city of Zomba will be able to access the Zomba Central Hospital. Though a day’s walk can be cut shorter to a 40-minute drive – which is still a considerable amount of time to access a medical facility – transportation for many Kuntumanji residents, especially children is limited.
With only 6% of orphans and vulnerable children receiving medical support; life expectancy is again lower than the national average in the district where Shine Relief Trust is located. In 2006 it was calculated at 43.7 years for males and 46.6 years for females, resulting in an average life expectancy of 45,1 years at birth. Despite Kuntumanji County’s population of 72,889, it is served by three poorly equipped health centres. One of them is the Bimbi Clinic which currently serves about 23,124 people –located in our project area – is under-equipped to suitably cater to the needs of the sick. The Senior Chief of Kuntumanji has described the conditions at Bimbi Health Centre as “very bad and pathetic” in 2014 after he witnessed it operating devoid of beds, mattresses, clean running water and other key basic hospital amenities, talk less of more sophisticated equipment. Given all the host of factors discussed above, it will come as no surprise that the infant mortality rate is significantly high in this district with 9.8% of the households reporting at least one death in 2002 and 2003.
The Effects on Children
The education of the neglected children in Zomba The environment places dire strains on orphaned children and currently, only 6% of orphans receive education support, leaving the remaining 94% dependently ignorant of the dangers that face them. Of the 6% of orphans who do receive education, many are unable to attend school due to the copious household demands required from them by their existing relatives who they remain dependent on.
The challenges facing the children in this community are vast however over the past eight years Shine Relief has made such a difference. Shines After School group, our most recent project at Shine Village center started through funds raised by Shine New Zealand supporters. Headed by Anthony Zidana, this group is very popular, with over 45 children attending. In a region were just 4% of children enroll in secondary school and only 34% of the secondary school teachers are qualified, educating children remains one of the greatest challenges. The cost of school fees is often too high for children in our area, however, support has been made available to those with a good attitude to their studies and we have now seen over 30 students helped, some of whom are now in college.
We are always looking to support new students if you would like to help get in touch!
Malnutrition Most people think of malnutrition as not having enough to eat, but for many of the world’s hungry people, the problem is that they get too few of the minerals and vitamins that they need to thrive, physically and mentally. Malnutrition often starts in the womb. Malnourished mothers give birth to malnourished children, creating a cycle that continues for generations. We need to break this cycle, by ensuring that the hungry have the right foods at the right time. If children don’t get the right food in the first two years of life, the damage done to their physical growth is irreversible. Stunted physical development is evident throughout the district amongst half of all children under 5 yrs old due to lack of proper nutrition and limited access to healthcare.
Maize is the staple food in Malawi. One large bag of maize feeds a family of five for one month. But there is a long, hard haul involved in getting the corn to the mill before the family can put meals on the table.
More information: novoc malawi
*source Malawi Demographics Profile 2016*