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Health projects have been a core program of HELP International since 1999. Many of our participants come with public health backgrounds and are able to work with local NGO's, hospitals, and clinics to develop and support programs based on needs. Projects range across all levels of health development work, from prevention and education, to utilizing technology in disease control to direct patient care and support of clinicians. Participants teach basic health classes in disease prevention, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene among other needed workshops. We partner with in-country health care professionals so participants can gain hands-on experience.
Health eudcation and interventions are usually coupled with another program. Square-foot Gardening may be accompanied by a nutrition lesson, handwashing station construction will come alongside hygiene lessons and soap distribution, working with an orphanage on many other issues may include lessons on diet, nutrition, handwashing and hygiene, and safe practices to reduce gastrointestinal infections. Project selection is always based on needs assessed among the local population.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic affects more people in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else in the world, nevertheless is a problem for impoverished families worldwide. Working with communities affected by AIDS is multi-faceted, and HELP International projects include workshops to educate individuals at risk or already living with HIV/AIDS to reduce its spread, and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. HELP projects often will also include working directly with HIV support groups for people living with AIDS, supporting "AIDS orphans", or children orphaned due to the loss of household earners due to HIV/AIDS and dealing with stigma in communities and encouraging regular testing.
By far the most common health-related project is education. Based on assessed needs served by HELP International in-country partners and participants upon arriving, topics including feminine hygiene, reproductive health, basic hand washing and hygiene, environmental health, water sanitation, oral and visual health and many other topics are all taught in a variety of methods. HELP sponsored health education camps, community workshops and seminars and health fairs have all brought important information to needy families in all HELP locations.
HELP partners with public and private clinical institutions in need of various forms of support. HELP participants have served as assistants to clinicians, have shadowed experienced professionals, assisted in interpretation services during disaster relief or large-scale international health campaigns, as well as completed projects with donated medical supplies for needy institutions.
Diarrheal disease is the leading cause of death for children under 5 in the entire world. Poor sanitation and diet are the root causes of the majority of these infections and only seem to get worse with time. HELP projects addressing poor hand hygiene and water sanitation include the construction of tippy-taps and other models of hand-washing stations for families and business owners, improved sanitation techniques through education and construction of latrines and other waste management systems like the soilet.
Many impoverished families prepare meals over open flames, and due to climate or other restrictions of space, this is often done within the walls of their homes. Smoke-filled homes result in increased visual and respiratory health issues, leading to severe visual deficits and lung disease. Through several simple improved stove models like the Adobe Stove, HELP participants have reduced smoke in the home for many families in most HELP locations.
With incredible partners, HELP participants have had the incredible opportunity to participate in some of the most impactful projects ever. By assisting with local, trained professionals and clinicians, HELP projects have resulted in the provision of visual health screenings, lense provision and various forms of corrective surgeries for thousands of individuals. Dental, visual and HIV testing number among several types of direct clinical care that through HELP projects, has been taken directly to needy communities.
Undernutrition is the underlying cause of the death for more than half of children's deaths in the world. Poorly nourished children and families are more susceptive to diarrheal, respiratory and other illness that far too often take their lives. With limited availability of good produce and even less funds for them, many families survive on a meager diet of rice, beans and/or bread. By instituting small family gardens, HELP projects have instructed families an adequate nutrition while providing a sustainable source of nutrient-rich foods, and a way to ensure appropriate variety. In many cases, larger gardens are incorporated into a business plan to not only provide healthy meals for children, but income for a struggling education program or family group.