Posts Tagged: “Douglas Steinberg”

The Front Line of Eye Health

This blog post was written by Douglas Steinberg, HKI’s Regional Director of West Africa.

MAMBIRI, KITA  (MALI), July 3, 2013. When we arrived at the community health center in the village of Mambiri, there was already a throng of patients waiting. In the days prior, the local health workers had canvassed the area surrounding Mambiri, informing people that a team would be visiting to conduct trachoma screening and surgery for those with trichiasis. The team consisted of three ophthalmological nurses who have traveled from Mali’s capital city, Bamako. The team is mid-way through a ten day circuit of the local health centers, in remote communities such as Mambiri. The team works with the local health center staff to get the word out, to screen and to follow up patients who need further care or treatment.

Nurse Adama Sangaré (left) and the Eye Health team in Mali. Photo: c. HKI/Douglas Steinberg

One nurse, Adama Sangaré, works the through the crowd who are seated along with wall under the awning of the health center, consulting with each individual. They come with a variety of eye care issues, many of which can be easily treated with tetracycline or other antibiotics, and the patients sent on their way. Some will present issues, such as cataracts, that are referred to the district or regional hospital. Around a half dozen will require surgery for trichiasis, which is performed on the spot by two other nurses. Their goal is to perform an average of seven operations a day.

I am greatly impressed by the team of nurses. They are skilled in their work, and take the time to discuss (in the local language Bamabara) with each patient. They advise the patients how to avoid getting infected again, for example through face washing. The few who need surgery are coached through the procedure, with gentle words. The operation is fairly painless (patients say), but it still takes some nerve to submit to it. And all go away pleased with the results. The health care workers who provide this service are working in very basic conditions. They are away from home long periods, staying in remote areas with no amenities – not even running water or electricity. They are really the front line of eye health in Mali, and they perform their work with great pride and good cheer.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Our Short Trip to Timbuktu

This blog post was written by Douglas Steinberg, HKI’s Regional Director of West Africa.

TIMBUKTU, JULY 1: Our short trip to Timbuktu today has brought back memories from when I worked in Mali in the early 1990s. I spent much time in the Timbuktu region, plying the Niger River in large canoes to visit communities located on the banks of the Niger River. Timbuktu is a mythical place for people in the West, who think of it as the end of the world, and in many respects it is about as remote as you can get. But it has also been for centuries a center of learning and trade on the edge of the Sahara. While much of Timbuktu’s heritage was destroyed during the Islamist occupation last year, the area surrounding Timbuktu remains constant.  It is a land that depends on the annual floods of the river for rice farming, where large herds gather in lush pastures when the waters recede, and where a rich catch of fish can be taken year round. Life moves at the slow pace of the Niger River current, but all together the local diet is rich and diverse. Were it not for the political crisis, the region would be relatively well-nourished. more…

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

Saving Sight on World Sight Day

Yayé Tounakar receiving eyelid surgery

By Douglas Steinberg, HKI’s Deputy Regional Director for West Africa.

I have visited several of Helen Keller International (HKI) programs to control Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), and blogged about them here. Among the main NTDs that HKI works to control is trachoma, one of the leading causes of blindness in the world.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

My Favorite Food

How One Community Prevents Malnutrition by Monitoring the Growth of its Children.
map_of_niger

Post by Douglas Steinberg, HKI’s Deputy Regional Director for West Africa.

In a recent visit to HKI’s work in Tsogal, Niger, replies to my queries about the harvest were not encouraging at all.

“Most families here have only harvested enough to feed their families for two months,” replied one farmer in the community. This year is shaping up to be much less bountiful than last year – but still better than the disastrous harvest of 2009. This is a time when young children are at risk of malnutrition.

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End of the Adventure: Five Strategies for Fighting Malnutrition

Doug reflects on how HKI is preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition for the most vulnerable in West Africa.
Breastfeeding in Kolifo

Today, we drove the 150 miles from Fada N’Gourma to Ouagadougou – the last leg before flying out tomorrow morning. On arriving in Ouagadougou, Nicholas Kristof and the “Win-a-Trip” winners visited a center for supporting people living with HIV. Over the course of the past week, Shawn Baker and I have accompanied Nick through four countries – Mauritania, Senegal, Niger and Burkina Faso. We’ve been in numerous villages, and we’ve spoken in depth with many people – mostly women – about the challenges of their lives and the solutions to help improve their lot.

In pursuit of HKI’s mission to prevent blindness and reduce undernutrition, we focus on two major program areas in Africa – fighting malnutrition (particularly micronutrient deficiency), and controlling certain tropical diseases, such as trachoma and onchocerciasis. During this past week, we have seen some successful programs in each of these areas. During these days, I’ve been reflecting on HKI’s approach to reducing malnutrition.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition

Show Your Newborn Love

Doug Steinberg visits a village where HKI's Homestead Food Production is helping mothers raise healthier children
map_of_burkina-faso

Doug Steinberg’s second post as his travels with NY Times Journalist, Nicholas Kristof to Burkina Faso.

Today we drove west from Niamey, the capital of Niger, into eastern Burkina Faso. The evening before, there was a torrential rain, and the desert is blooming. We drove into a somewhat moister climate, and the thorn trees gave way to large broad-leaf trees, including the Shea butternut tree, which is the source of the Shea butter found in many cosmetics.

At the town of Fada N’Gourma in eastern Burkina, we turned onto a track heading off into the bush, which we followed to the village of Zona-Tenga, a site of our Homestead Food Production program.  We work with groups of women, particularly those of child bearing age, to diversify their diets by growing vitamin-rich vegetables and tending to small livestock, such as chickens and goats. These foods are excellent sources of vitamin A, iron, protein and fats – all of which are lacking in the diets of women and children in this region.

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More Frightening Than Lions

Doug Steinberg goes to a village in Niger that has eliminated the threat of River Blindness thanks to mass drug distribution.
Doug Steinberg with Kalifa Doumbia, a community distributor v2

Doug Steinberg, HKI’s Deputy Regional Director for West Africa, joins the team traveling with NY Times Journalist, Nicholas Kristof. The picture to the left is Doug with Kalifa Doumbia, a community distributor of the drug, Ivermectin.

The village of Moli is located about 85 miles south of Niger’s capital Niamey on the edge of the W National Park, a wildlife reserve with big game, small creatures and a variety of bird-life. The area lies west of the Niger River, with many tributaries flowing through it. These streams dry up in the long, dry season, but they come to life in the rainy season, which is just beginning. Among the life is the black fly, a vector for Onchocerciasis (river blindness).

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness